Blue Jays, Gibbons agree to extension

Skipper signed through 2019 with club option for '20

Blue Jays, Gibbons agree to extension

MONTREAL -- John Gibbons has been rewarded for a pair of back-to-back trips to the American League Championship Series with a contract extension.

Toronto officially signed Gibbons to a two-year contract extension prior to Saturday afternoon's game against the Pirates. His two-year deal will kick in at the end of the season and it also includes a club option for 2020.

The deal had been expected for months and was more or less complete a couple of weeks ago. Gibbons talked midway through Spring Training about what the extension meant to him, but it technically didn't become official until the weekend series in Montreal. 

"It's a nice reward," Gibbons said. "Things have been good here the last couple of years. There was a long drought. We still feel like we are good enough to win it all. So there's still something missing but there's no doubt things have gotten better around here and we just need to build off of that. I guess you could say [it's] a vote of confidence."

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins provided the first clue that a new deal would be forthcoming during last year's end-of-the-season news conference. When asked about Gibbons' job security, Atkins responded that not only would his manager return for 2017, but that the club would also reach out to start negotiations on a new deal.

It was with Gibbons' blessing that the Blue Jays initially put those contract talks on hold so the front office could focus on more pressing issues. Toronto had nine free agents and multiple holes on the 25-man roster that needed to be filled, and during an offseason that was slow to develop, some of those moves didn't happen until the final week before Spring Training.

With the start of the regular season just days away, the focus shifted back to Gibbons. The native of Texas was hired by former GM Alex Anthopoulos prior to the 2013 season, but he has since built a strong working relationship with the club's new front office. Atkins frequently cites Gibbons' in-game decisions and ability to manage the personalities inside Toronto's clubhouse as some of his biggest strengths.

"There are a couple of things you factor in," Atkins said. "One is experience, or expertise, and the other is values. The expertise was abundantly clear very quickly. Reading the resume, watching the day-to-day interactions. The values aspect is something that also became clear quickly, that we were aligned.

"John Gibbons is someone who -- not just from a values standpoint but overall as a person -- is someone we really enjoy working with and we're excited to get to this day."

Gibbons is set to begin the fifth year of his second stint as the Blue Jays' skipper -- and his ninth overall at the helm of the team. The former Mets catcher managed the team from 2004-08 before returning to Toronto in '13 to lead Toronto to its first postseason appearance in 21 years in '15.

The 54-year-old Gibbons owns a career 644-614 record as the Blue Jays' manager, with those 644 victories ranking second behind Cito Gaston (894-837) in franchise history.

"The guys love him," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said. "He's easy to work with. He keeps the guys level-headed. Knows how to work with the different egos that we have on this team and he does a fantastic job of that. He's almost like a father figure to us and we appreciate it."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.