Next season, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. only 19 and seemingly ready to take Toronto by storm, will likely mark the beginning of a new era for the Blue Jays.
Call it what you will – a tear down or a makeover – but in all likelihood, admits Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, it will probably happen without him.
“Truthfully, a full breakdown, going young?” Gibbons conceded to reporters at Rogers Centre on Friday afternoon when asked about his future with the American League club. “You know, I have to admit I don’t know if I’m interested in that.
“But we’ll see. I’m still here. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Everybody has been great to me, no doubt about that. We’ll see where it all ends up.”
In the cut-throat business of professional sports, that is about as close to submitting a resignation as it gets. And the 58-year-old still has a year left on his contract.
It has been a difficult, injury-marred season for the Blue Jays and Gibbons. It will mark the second successive year the team has failed to live up to the front office’s expected standards.
The Blue Jays were 10 games under .500, and 28 games back of the divisional-leading Boston Red Sox, when they welcomed the Tampa Bay Rays to town on Friday night to begin a three-game weekend series.
The Rays' Blake Snell made it tough on the Blue Jays, too, going perfect through five innings on Friday night, striking out six of 15 batters in just his second start since returning from the disabled list with left-shoulder fatigue. Jake Faria, his replacement, surrendered an infield hit to Luke Maile, the first batter he faced.
The Rays won 7-0 to improve to 59-57. The Blue Jays, 52-63, finished with only three hits.
Toronto starter Marco Estrada was rocked for five runs off five hits over 5⅓ innings, including a two-run homer from Michael Perez in the third inning when the Rays jumped in front 2-0.
Ji-Man Choi added a solo shot in the sixth.
When speaking with Toronto reporters earlier, Gibbons was echoing comments he made on Friday morning on MLB Network Radio when he was asked about recent unsubstantiated reports that his best-before date was rapidly approaching.
And he handled it with the same typical self-deprecating aplomb that the down-to-earth Texan has become known for across the game.
“This is a rebuild, they’re starting to get into a full-blown rebuild,” Gibbons told the radio show. “If my days are finished here, it’s been a wonderful ride.
“Maybe they would benefit in getting a new fresh face to grow with the young players and things like that. I’m not so sure I want to go through one of those things, a total rebuild.”
Gibbons was asked why the prospect of overseeing an overhaul was not to his liking.
“I’m not that 35-year-old kid anymore,” he said. “I may look like it, but I’m not. And you know, those things take time. I want to continue doing this job in some capacity.
“I think one of my strengths is patience, I’ve always had great patience – but I don’t know if I have that much patience.”
Friday night, Gibbons managed his 1,535th game over two stints as the Blue Jays skipper, second only in franchise history to the 1,731 games of Cito Gaston.
The big difference between the two is Gaston led the Blue Jays to two World Series championships, in 1992 and 1993. In his 10 full seasons at the helm, Gibbons led the Blue Jays into the postseason twice, getting as far as the AL Championship Series in 2015.
Regardless of what may transpire, Gibbons said he will be at peace.
"I'm fine with it,” he said in Toronto. “I've loved my time here. How many guys get a chance to come back and do it a second time?
“I'm confident in what I do, I don't doubt that at all. I've always given my best here, but this a result-driven business.”
If Blue Jays supporters need to conjure up images of what a make-over of a baseball team looks like, the Rays provide a good example.
The Rays arrived in Toronto sporting a decent record with 11 players on their active roster that were not on it the previous time they clashed with the Blue Jays on June 13 at Tropicana Field. Only one player – centrefielder Kevin Kiermaier – remains in the organization from the managerial debut of Kevin Cash on April 6, 2015.