Jays fans will have a new scoreboard to gaze at next season. A new stadium? That’s on the ‘long-term horizon’
There will be a new scoreboard at the Rogers Centre next season, but the future of the Blue Jays’ longtime home is still to be determined.
Mark Shapiro, the Jays’ president and CEO, announced at Monday’s year-end availability that short-term improvements would once again be made at the stadium this off-season, after recent upgrades to the sound system and turf. They are also looking at ways to improve the fan experience on the concourse.
But Shapiro also acknowledged the club has a bigger issue to address, one that has been put on hold in recent years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest capital project that’s left for the Blue Jays to consider is, how do we either address Rogers Centre through a significant renovation or a new stadium at some point,” Shapiro said. “That’s not immediate, but it’s one, 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 at about $100 million (U.S.) 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 Monday include:
“Right now, I’m feel pretty good about the commissioner being so confident that a deal will get done by Dec. 1,” he said.
Shapiro doesn’t expect any new deal to have a major impact on free agency or trades. And talks toward long-term contract extensions with young stars such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette don’t necessarily need to wait until a new deal in brokered, he added, though any changes related to service time could be a factor.
“(I’m) not sure I’ve seen a better season of work from a collective baseball operations,” he said about the acquisition of bullpen help before and, in Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards, during the season. “The bullpen is a tough area. It’s mercurial. There are almost no teams that, year in and year out, build dominant bullpens, and it is almost certain you’re going to have to adapt and adjust as the season goes along.”
That said, more experience in the ’pen made Shapiro’s list of areas that need improvement this off-season, along with more balance in the batting order.
After being eliminated on the final day of the regular season despite finishing 91-71 in the competitive American League East, Shapiro is eyeing 92 or 93 wins in 2022.
“(I’m) confident that almost every year those are numbers that are going to get you into the post-season.”
“He’s clearly one of the best players in the game when he’s on the field; we saw that when he was healthy and playing,” Shapiro said.
He likened the 31-year-old Springer to Guerrero, nine years his junior, when it comes to their love of the game.
“That little bit of ability to have fun and joy despite the roller-coaster ride you’re going to be on is so important, and can be a differentiator in this game,” said Shapiro.