Jays GM Atkins won't publicly address Jose Bautista talks
Feb. 23, 2016
DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — New Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins wouldn't publicly address Jose Bautista's stance on what it would take for Toronto to sign him to a deal beyond 2016.
A day after Bautista said he and his agent had told Toronto two weeks ago what kind of agreement he wanted, Atkins said "it doesn't need to be public and it won't be from our end."
"To me, it's not a cloud," Atkins said Tuesday. "To me, it's really clear we've had really clear, effective communication. There is no ambiguity. We can focus on playing baseball — Jose feels good about doing that."
Bautista is earning $14 million this year after the Blue Jays exercised the 2016 option in the outfielder's current deal, and he can become a free agent after the World Series. The 35-year-old had 40 homers and 114 RBIs last season as Toronto won the AL East and reached the playoffs for the first time since winning the 1993 title.
Bautista said he told Toronto he expects "present-day value." Atkins described their exchanges as "incredible" and praised the six-time All-Star's work ethic.
"I love being around the guy," Atkins said. "I love talking baseball with him. I love to hear him talking about his career. It gets me fired up."
Outfielder Michael Saunders said he met with Atkins and manager John Gibbons to discuss reports a three-team trade fell through that would have sent Saunders to the Los Angeles Angels and All-Star right fielder Jay Bruce from Cincinnati to the Blue Jays, a deal that would have sent prospects to the Reds.
"That's kind of the human element of it," Saunders said. "They made sure I wasn't paying any attention to the rumors and they assured me that they're just rumors and nothing more. I expect to be a Jay, they expect me to be a Jay and that's how I'm approaching this spring training."
Saunders, who missed all but nine games last season with a lingering left knee injury, participated in workouts Tuesday.
Atkins declined to delve into any specifics.
"There's a lot of trade rumors, there's a lot of trade discussion," he said. "We have them constantly. There's really nothing I can comment on about it."
NOTES: RHP Marco Estrada held out of his side session as a precaution due to back stiffness. Gibbons plans to ease Estrada back into his normal routine in the coming weeks after he tossed a career-high 181 innings last season. . RHP Gavin Floyd, who has thrown just 91 innings over the past three seasons due to elbow problems, is progressing well, Gibbons said, and is a contender for the vacant fifth spot in the rotation. "He threw (Monday) and he looked good," Gibbons said. "He's coming off some injuries, but he's a proven big-league starter. We'll see how he pitches if he's that fifth guy. If not, there's a spot in the pen for him, probably."