Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is slated to remain with the club through the end of the 2018 season, general manager Ross Atkins told reporters on Friday. The news follows a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who cast some doubt on the veteran skipper’s future with the team several weeks ago when he said the Jays “seem destined to move on from John Gibbons.”
While it appears Gibbons’ job is safe for the next six weeks, that’s not saying much — especially as the club currently sits 30.5 games back of the division lead and will prepare to continue restructuring a sub-.500 roster come fall. As recently as last week, he hinted that he wasn’t feeling particularly eager to oversee a full rebuild. Per Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun:
Truthfully, a full breakdown, you know I have to admit I don’t know if I’m interested in that,” Gibbons said prior to Friday’s 7-0 blowout loss to the Tampa Rays. “But we’ll see. I’m still here. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Over 11 cumulative seasons from 2004-2008 and 2013-2018, the 56-year-old manager has guided the team to a winning record just five times, most recently when they earned back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016. He still has another year remaining on his contract, which was recently lengthened to include the 2018 and 2019 seasons and includes an option for 2020 as well.
Atkins also revealed that the club is prepared to reevaluate Gibbons’ role during the offseason, though it’s not yet clear whether they intend to keep him on for the next two years as originally planned, reassign him to another role within the organization, or terminate his agreement with the team altogether.
On Sunday, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles spoke to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. Giles said, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston.” Giles won a World Series with the Astros last year, but talked about communication issues with the Astros and compared them unfavorably to the Blue Jays. Giles described the communication as having been “lost” and credited the Jays for staying patient with him.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to Giles’ comments on Monday. Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Hinch said:
I think he’s wrong and I’m disappointed that he would go down that path given how much work and time and energy and communication that our front office, our coaching staff, me, we all went through this with him. And I understand, there was some disappointment in his tenure as an Astro because of the turbulent way things went about. We gave him every opportunity, we communicated with him effectively, we have an incredible culture where every single player will tell you it’s one of the best cultures they’ve had, one of the best communication envrionments they’ve had. They all know their roles. They all know their situations. To have one person out of all the guys in our clubhouse come out and claim otherwise is flat wrong.
While Giles certainly could be embellishing or deliberately misconstruing his time there, Hinch’s rebuttal doesn’t actually disqualify anything Giles said. Giles certainly could have had a negative experience in Houston even if everyone else was enjoying the “incredible culture” and “one of the best communication environments.”
Given how the Astros — including Hinch — responded to criticism about their acquiring an accused domestic abuser, they’re not in the best position to boast about an “incredible culture” anyway.
At any rate, this is a he-said, he-said situation. If anything more comes of it, it will be Giles further torching a bridge.