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Atkins was officially hired as the Blue Jays' general manager on Friday, and 48 hours later he was boarding a flight to Music City. He might be the one in charge, but Atkins said he actually plans to lean on longtime assistant GM Tony LaCava throughout the transition process.
"I think I would almost say that I'm going to ask Tony to ask for help from me and have him lead it," Atkins said prior to arriving in Nashville. "How can I support you? Fortunately I've been thinking about these things for another team [the Indians].
"I've been viewing this team, the Toronto Blue Jays as well, [and] have a good understanding of the market, and I feel like I'll be able to complement the staff, ask questions, ask them different ways to think about things. But in the end, Tony will have the lead, and I'll look to help and support him for the rest of the offseason."
The Winter Meetings are set to officially begin Monday morning, and it's expected to be a busy day for Toronto. Atkins will be made available to the media, while Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is scheduled to talk at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET. Full coverage can be found throughout the week at bluejays.com.
Toronto got off to a busy start this offseason by re-signing Marco Estrada, signing free agent J.A. Happ and trading for right-hander Jesse Chavez. The Blue Jays continue to be in the market for additional starting pitching, at least a couple of relievers and a utility infielder.
The big question is whether the Blue Jays will make a run at another major acquisition or instead settle for depth pieces to round out the organization. For his part, Atkins seemed to downplay the possibility the club acquires a big-name player and instead focused on adding smaller pieces to round out not only the active roster, but also the upper levels of the Minor Leagues.
"In terms of depth, we'll look for additional pieces beyond the Major League team and see how we can fortify the depth that way," Atkins said of a pitching staff that currently includes Marcus Stroman, Estrada, R.A. Dickey, Happ and either Chavez or Drew Hutchison. "But absolutely, I believe the rotation is enough to contend."
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 11 a.m. and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 10 a.m.