January 1 has passed and that used to mean another year for Toronto Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons. Now, everything is different.
Over the last few seasons, we’d be watching semi-closely as the calendar flipped to a new year. Doing so would trigger a clause in the contract of Toronto Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons. In a stroke of genius, Gibby, would be rewarded for not being fired. If he were still employed by the club on Jan 1, an extra year would be added to his contract, giving him 2 more years of pay.
Under new management, that clause has been removed from his deal. The removal of that clause would see him get a small raise to make up for the lack of security. And, before anyone could blame Mark Shapiro for this, Gibby told everyone that it was something he approached former GM, Alex Anthopoulos about. It is easy to see why the new deal would benefit both parties. For Gibby, it allows him to pursue other options should he feel the need; he is not locked in to staying with Toronto year after year. For the club, it also allows them to shift gears should they feel the need.
And, heading into 2017, that very question will surely be a point of conversation. 2017 is the last year Gibby is
currently under contract. While the previous ‘rollover clause’ avoided the situation of him being a “lame duck” manager, this coming season certainly presents a scenario where he could be just that, despite the vote of confidence from current GM, Ross Atkins. Some question the sincerity of such a statement from the GM when they bring in a guy like Eric Wedge to fill one of those ‘baseball type’ jobs. Those who doubt prefer to think that management has brought in one of their buddies to serve as insurance for if, and when, Gibbons falters. Given the state of things, that could happen rather easily.
Through no fault of his own, his team has many question marks as we sit about 2 months away from the start of Spring Training. After losing two major pieces to his lineup in Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays are arguably worse off than they were a year ago. Currently looking at an outfield that will need some serious creativity to navigate a full season and a bullpen that is just as empty, Gibbons will certainly be in a position where he will have to earn his money. Right out of the gate, decisions will have to be made that will have a direct impact on wins and losses, which often are the measuring stick for managers.
One could argue that, for the last couple of seasons, John Gibbons was able to rely on the natural talent level of his club to win ballgames. It really was no surprise to see the Blue Jays in the postseason the last couple of seasons, considering the talent that was placed in front of him. Many have argued that all he had to do was fill out a lineup card. But, as things stand right now, 2017 won’t be that easy. He’ll have to earn his money.
Gibby does not come across as a guy who is trying to fleece people for the most amount of money possible. In fact, his salary sits well below other Toronto figures at the helm of their respective team…WELL BELOW. Instead, Gibby is a player’s manager. He does the job because he enjoys it. He has done a good job of managing a team full of highly paid talent and the personalities that go along with that. He has had some dust-ups in the past, but seems to have learned how to establish his expectations and accommodate for egos.
The enjoyment of the job seems to be the key motivator for a guy like Gibby, who still mows his own lawn. When you carry yourself like that, perhaps getting caught up in whether or not he’ll be fired may not even be in his nature. Instead, it will be the rest of us that will be bringing this conversation up, perhaps rather frequently this coming season. In the past, the ‘rollover clause’ protected John Gibbons from this conversation. Now, the only thing that will protect him is winning, which is no small task.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.