Atkins Says Blue Jays Organizational Changes Result Of Pandemic Hardship


TORONTO – Ross Atkins says the restructuring of the Toronto Blue Jays’ five special assistant positions, including one occupied by Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, is a byproduct of financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that all are encouraged to stay at a lower rate of pay.

Alomar, his father Sandy, Hall of Fame colleague Tim Raines, Pat Hentgen and Paul Quantrill have all been affected by broader organizational changes that struck hours on Thursday before the club clinched a postseason spot .

All five have performed a variety of duties for the Blue Jays, from attending community events to training young players in the farming system. Their full-time positions were eliminated and the club reportedly offered them part-time positions instead.

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It was not immediately clear where things stood with them, although Atkins called them “incredible”, and praised “the impact and influence they had long before I was here on so many. different players, and obviously fan base and just for this organization, what they meant, I think everyone’s world.

“Really the way we look at it is that they are helping us get through a pandemic, financial hardship and minor league restructuring,” he continued. “We would love to have them here, to continue to be here. They will be paid very differently. They will always be welcome. And our hope is that we’re looking for a year or maybe two years from now, and that they’ll return in similar, if not similar, even bigger roles with us.

All five have been with the organization for years, Alomar among the franchise’s most recognizable personalities and Hentgen being part of the organizational fiber. Other clubs in the past have asked about Hentgen’s availability, but he has never been interested, fully committing to the Blue Jays.

“One thousand percent,” said a scout for a rival club. “All the players love it.”

The changes did not stop at special assistants. The Blue Jays are also parting ways with triple A manager Ken Huckaby, pitching rehab coordinator David Aardsma, pitching rehab coach Darold Knowles and possibly others. Other changes are also expected.

“Go through a pandemic with what that has meant for the industry financially, what it means for the Toronto Blue Jays, and then have a minor league restructuring process in the industry where we will almost certainly be operating with two. with fewer teams, and a significantly smaller number of players, it would have been irresponsible not to think about how we could operate more efficiently, ”said Atkins. “Every business has had to do it, and it would be very difficult not to.

“At least in our opinion, we felt like it was something we had to do. As far as Ken is concerned, and in particular in thinking about how we could be more effective, we had to reduce the total number of leaders in our organization.

“It was more just circumstances. He has certainly done great things for us and will continue to do great things in baseball. He had a significant impact here. I’m deeply attached to the person, the character, their contributions, just a very difficult decision that we had to make.

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Atkins added that Huckaby’s replacement as manager of the triple-A Bisons “will definitely be an internal candidate. ”

The two-team minor league cut Atkins mentioned is part of a larger Major League Baseball plan to streamline minor leagues, sparking a major uproar among team owners on the chopping block.

Last November, in a list published by Baseball America of the 42 teams proposed for withdrawal from the affiliated minor leagues, the only Blue Jays affiliate mentioned was rookie ball Bluefield.

Their other affiliates are: triple-A Buffalo, double-A New Hampshire, forward-A Dunedin, low-A Lansing, short season Vancouver, rookie GCL Blue Jays and Dominican Summer League Blue Jays.

The draft has been reduced to just five rounds this year, and industry speculation is that next year’s draft will be pushed back to July and possibly reduced to 20 rounds from the usual 40.


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