GM Atkins responds to comments by Stroman

February 17th, 2019
Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins looks on during spring training baseball practice in Dunedin, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)Nathan Denette/AP

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins declined to get into a back-and-forth with on Sunday afternoon, sidestepping criticism from his right-handed starter.

Atkins addressed comments Stroman made earlier in the day to a group of reporters. In his first media availability of the spring, Stroman criticized the Blue Jays for having a lack of veterans in the clubhouse and for not approaching him about a contract extension.

Stroman's comments drew a great deal of attention, leading Atkins, who was not with the club, to host a brief conference call with local reporters back at Toronto's Minor League complex.

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"Any negotiation, any discussion, I'm not going to comment on," Atkins said when asked to respond. "We've had lengthy discussions with Marcus' representation. ... I'm excited to have Marcus Stroman as a Toronto Blue Jay, extremely excited about his health, the way he has performed thus far, the way he looks, his energy has been awesome in the clubhouse."

One of the lines from Stroman that received the most attention was, "I've been waiting to sign a long-term deal, I've been offered nothing." A source within the Blue Jays organization disputed that notion, but at the same time did not get into specifics about whether an official offer had been made or whether it was restricted to a general framework.

Stroman also suggested the Blue Jays needed to add more pieces to the roster if they were going to realistically contend in the American League East. The product of Duke suggested Toronto should "bolster" the roster and specifically pointed to the bullpen, position players and possibly even another starting pitcher as the main areas of need.

Atkins was asked to respond to those comments as well, and the Blue Jays general manager remained diplomatic.

"I agree with him, that we need to do everything we can to put the best roster on," Atkins said. "We will look to continue to bolster the roster any way we possibly can. That won't end the day the season opens. That's our existence. It's all we think about. We obsess about it and we'll continue to do that.

"As it relates to adding position players, we're excited about , , as I've mentioned, . There are a lot of established pieces that we are very excited about with some veteran presence. If we do look to add to our roster it will most likely be on the pitching side."