The Rogers Center will have a new scoreboard next season, but the future of the Blue Jays’ longtime home is still to be determined.
Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro announced Monday year-end availability that short-term improvements will be made once again this off-season, following recent upgrades to the sound system and turf. They are also looking at ways to improve the fan experience at Concourse.
But Shapiro also acknowledged that the club has a bigger issue to address, which has been put on hold in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest capital project for the Blue Jays to consider is how we address the Rogers Center through a significant renovation or a new stadium at some point,” Shapiro said. “It’s not immediate, but it’s one that, when you think about the long-term horizon for the Blue Jays, we’re going to need to address at some point.”
The Jays’ last significant infrastructure project was the construction of a player development complex at their spring training home in Dunedin, Fla. It took two years to build for around $100 million (US) and was unveiled in February. The Jays are in the midst of building a new hitting lab there — the final piece of the project “for now,” Shapiro said.
Other topics discussed on Monday include:
- Labor Front: Major League Baseball’s collective agreement with players expires on December 1, but Shapiro says it’s a “very important off-season” as always for his front office.
“At the moment, I feel very good about the commissioner being so confident that a deal will be done by December 1,” he said.
Shapiro doesn’t expect any of the new deals to have a major impact on free agency or trades. And talks of long-term contract extensions with young stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette don’t necessarily have to wait until a new deal is struck at the brokerage, he said, although any changes related to service time should be a factor. could.
- Bullpen: Shapiro pointed to the bullpen that the Jays had a reason to disappear after the season, finishing with a top-five run margin in the regular season.
“(I’m) not sure I’ve seen a better season of work than collective baseball operations,” he said of the acquisition of bullpen assists in Adam Simber and Trevor Richards during the season. “The bullpen is a tough field. There is parawar. There is almost no team that produces impressive bullpen year after year, and it is almost certain that you will have to adapt and adjust as the season progresses.
That said, more experience at the ‘Pain’ made Shapiro’s list of areas that need improvement this off-season, along with more balance in the batting order.
- Playoffs: Watching the game after the season has reinforced the notion that Jay is right there with the Contenders, with Shapiro saying: “I feel like when I watch these teams play, that if we have some way to get in If we got it, we were going to be a team that would have been very tough season after season.”
Shapiro is eyeing either 92 or 93 wins in 2022, after finishing on the final day of the regular season despite a 91-71 finish in the competitive American League East.
“(I) believe that almost every year those numbers are going to get you through the season.”
- Difference: A healthy George Springer could be worth the extra win needed next season, the boss said. The centre-fielder was limited to 78 games due to injuries in his first season with Toronto.
“He is clearly one of the best players in the game when he is on the field; We saw that when he was healthy and playing,” Shapiro said.
When it comes to his love for the game, he compared Springer, 31, to Guerrero, nine years younger.
“The ability to have fun and enjoy yourself, regardless of the roller-coaster ride you’re on, is so important, and can make a difference in this sport,” Shapiro said.