OSUNA’S FUTURE HAS JAYS ‘EXCITED’
Despite a difficult season, closer a big part of the team’s plans, Steve Buffery writes.
CLEARWATER, FLA. Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins firmly believes too many people were closed-minded about the club’s closer Roberto Osuna last season, and may have pushed the panic button prematurely.
In many ways, Osuna had a great year. He was added to the all-star game lineup, tied for fourth in MLB in saves with 39, and became the first player in franchise history to record backto-back seasons with at least 35 saves — all at the age of 22.
However, Osuna also led the majors in blown saves with 10 and missed some time midseason with undisclosed anxiety issues. He also left the team for a spell near the end of the season to return to his native Mexico because he had just become a father.
Atkins said too much was made of the blown saves and the anxiety issues, and he fully expects Osuna to blossom again in 2018.
“You know, it’s interesting about Roberto,” Atkins said. “He had a great year, he had one of the better years of all the relievers in baseball, and I think a lot of attention got placed on the blown saves and a lot of attention got placed on the discussions in and around the game he didn’t pitch in Kansas City.
“But if you look at the strikeouts, the lack of walks, the lack of hits, he’s such a remarkable lateinning, elite reliever that … man, we’re very glad he’s here. We’re very glad he’s a Toronto Blue Jay and extremely excited about his future.”
Atkins was hesitant to get into Osuna’s anxiety issues but said he will be better equipped to deal with them next season.
“It’s an uncomfortable topic, especially when you’re talking to thousands, millions of people (via the media),” Atkins said, adding that Osuna had some difficulty getting his feelings across as his command of English is still an ongoing process. “When you talk about a word like anxiety, and you’re speaking in your second language, sometimes things can be misinterpreted and misconstrued. But we are absolutely 100 per cent confident that Roberto Osuna is in an incredible mental state, incredible physical state and in a great overall mindset to continue to be an elite professional pitcher.”
GIBBONS HAPPY FOR HIS OLD BOSS
Jays manager John Gibbons was happy to hear that his friend and former boss Alex Anthopoulos will again be an MLB general manager. The Atlanta Braves announced the signing on Monday. Anthopoulos rehired Gibbons as the Jays manager in 2012.
“It’s a great move for the Braves,” Gibbons told Postmedia. “Perfect guy to get them rolling. He has a great baseball mind and is very aggressive.”
The talk going around the GM meetings in Orlando, Fla., this week is that in the event the Blue Jays fire Gibbons, he’ll have a landing spot in Atlanta. Gibbons, a native of San Antonio, wouldn’t wade into that.
MARLINS HAVE STANTON ON MARKET
For sale: 28-year-old chiselled slugger who led Major League Baseball with 59 home runs, the most in 16 years.
Price: US$295 million over a decade.
Complication: Giancarlo Stanton only goes where he wants to, since the star right-fielder has a full no-trade provision.
Now under a new ownership group that put former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter in charge of baseball and business operations, the Miami Marlins have concluded their payroll-paring regime is willing to explore trades of Stanton and other high-priced players.
“I think over the next few days I’ll get a feel for what the marketplace is for our players,” Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill said the general managers’ meetings.
Miami had a US$116-million payroll on Aug. 31, up from US$81 million at the end of last year. Bruce Sherman’s group bought the team on Oct. 2 from Jeffrey Loria and is exploring trades for players who contributed to the team’s eighth straight losing season. The Marlins have not made the playoffs since winning the 2003 World Series, the second-longest post-season drought behind Seattle.
Stanton’s salary jumps from US$14.5 million this year to US$25 million next season. It peaks at US$32 million annually from 2023 to 2025.
When he spoke Oct. 25 at the World Series while receiving an award, Stanton said he didn’t have “stamped-out ideas” whether he would want to stay in Miami for a rebuild. The Marlins seem to know which teams he would accept a trade to.
“I do have a sense, and we’ll keep that internal, and at the appropriate time we’ll discuss whatever we need to discuss,” Hill said. “We work internally. We do what we need to do and then if we need to present him with something, we’ll do so at the appropriate time.”
Too much was made of Roberto Osuna’s blown saves, general manager Ross Atkins says.