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December 9, 2019

Charlie Montoyo

San Diego, California

Q. Would you take Mike Trout?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Yeah, any day.

Q. Charlie, have you -- or how do you try to participate in the process this week and over the course of the off-season? What kind of things do you like to contribute to the front office?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: You know, I've enjoyed the conversations with agents and players and stuff, and you saw me at the GM meetings. I was in a couple of meetings, and I've done that already today, see where our process is and talking to players, and I've enjoyed that so far.

Q. Is there anything that's been eye opening about that experience to you? Is there anything that you've been surprised about?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: It's not easy dealing with agents and stuff, but that's part of the business. But it's been fun. I'll tell you what, I know we haven't signed many guys yet, but we've also been aggressive. We've been aggressive, and I've been there watching it, and there's still plenty of players out there that we can get, and we've been aggressive. We've touched every player so far that's a free agent. We'll see who we end up signing.

Q. Charlie, when you're talking to agents, what's the pitch that you make? How do you sell the Blue Jays as being a good destination?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: The funny thing about Toronto, you have to be there first to see what it looks like. Like you can ask Donaldson, Bautista, Edwin EncarnaciĆ³n, all those guys, how much they love Toronto. I didn't even know. It's a beautiful city, the diversity of the town. You're playing for a country. The only way to find out is getting there. That's the pitch we're trying to -- we made a video to show people how beautiful it is, what a beautiful country, what a beautiful stadium, the fans. It's just a great place to play.

Q. So from a baseball perspective then, what's your sell?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: How good we're going to be, our young core of players, what we've got going. That's the best sell I can do. I think it's a good one.

Q. Charlie, kind of on that same note, last season the second half touched on the fact that you think you guys can be better more quickly than a lot of people expect. What are your expectations for 2020?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: You know what I like about our second half? We played the toughest schedule in baseball, or one of the toughest schedules, and we ended up 33-39 and 12-13 in September, and you're talking about playing Houston, Dodgers, Yankees, Boston, Atlanta, all those teams, and we competed, and we played well and had that kind of record, and we got better. That's what I wanted to see as a manager, and we did. Our kids played good at the end.

Q. So what are your realistic expectations?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Keep playing the way we did in the second half. Keep getting better.

Q. Do you think you're a .500 ball club next year?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: That's a tough call. I haven't even looked at schedule yet, but I know we play good baseball, and we got to stay healthy, but I think we're better than what people think, that's for sure.

Q. Vlad and Bo made their debuts last year. What are you looking for from them in year two?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Hopefully the same thing as last year. I'm glad you touched on Vlad. Right now I wish you guys could see him. He's working hard every day. He's been doing a lot, working with weights, hitting. He's in great shape. For a young guy, he knew he run out of gas a little bit there at the end, and he doesn't want that to happen again. He's working hard this off-season to get better, and I think he's going to have a great year next year.

And, of course, Bo was lights out the whole time until he got hit in the head and then he was out. He's really good.

Q. When you say better shape, do you know how many pounds he's lost?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: When I say better shape, it's everything. It's a long season, you know. They've never done it before. The only way to find out is doing it, and he realized, okay, I need to be in better shape to play 162 games. It's a long year, and he knows that now, and he's working out right now in the off-season.

Q. Charlie, you're always a positive guy, but when you're having all these discussions with all the free agents, and you guys have invested obviously a lot of time in that and you haven't come away with anything yet, is it hard not to get discouraged when you come and see those guys sign with other teams?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: No. I'll tell you what, from the beginning, a year ago, when I sat down for that dinner with Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, the vision they had, they haven't deviated from there, and I appreciate that about those guys. I'm very lucky to be working for these guys. And I'm telling you, I've been in those meetings, and they've been aggressive making the offers, and that's all I can tell you.

Q. What makes you so positive about it? They seemed pretty positive how those talks went. What makes you so positive about it?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Because I know how aggressive we've been.

Q. How many starters would you ideally like to add this off-season? You guys got Chase Anderson, and you have some of the young guys we saw a little bit last year. How many more adds do you want to see?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: You know, the one thing about baseball, you can never have enough pitching. The more we can add, the better. That doesn't only go for us, every team here is looking for pitching, starting pitching, and that's what we're doing too. Because you can never have enough. That's just a fact.

Q. Charlie, since we saw you at the GM meetings till now, has your approach changed at all. Like have you guys shifted at all as far as how it is that you're approaching this free agent pitching market? What it is that you're trying to accomplish?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: We've been going for starting pitching first, and then we'll go relievers and then position players. And, of course, if we happen to sign a position player before starting pitching, so that's fine, but I know we're trying to go for starters right now.

Q. When you see all the guys going off the board, like Gibson or Strasburg or Lyles, does that create any pressure for you guys to get in there and get something done?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: No. Of course you hate to lose guys like Gibson and Strasburg, but I was there when we made the offers. Just somebody else made a better offer, and that's how it goes in baseball.

Q. When you look at first base, what do you prioritize in that spot? You have Rowdy there, but maybe you want to replace someone, like Justin Smoak, bringing someone. Do you want someone who's experienced veteran leadership or do you just want -- like what do you look for in that first base position?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: I'm pulling for Rowdy. I'm going to tell you that, number one. I love the kid, and I see potential there. I know, if he gets a chance, he's going to be really good, and he's a young kid. So we also have to be patient. I don't want to put so much pressure on Rowdy. So, of course, if we find another older guy to take the spot and take the pressure off Rowdy, that would be great. If we don't, I'm okay with Rowdy playing.

Q. In regards to the starting pitching, do you view Nate Pearson as an option for 2020, or is that more long term?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Me and every other team in this place. He's one of our best prospects, but we've got to be patient. He threw 20, 25 innings last year. I'm not saying he's not going to make the team coming out of Spring Training because that has happened before, but we have to be patient and see what happens. Make sure he's healthy and everything, but, yeah, he's looking good.

Q. Charlie, with the way that last year, even though you had the good finish that you mentioned, the constant flux with pitching, and a lot of times you guys had to outscore some of the issues with pitching. If that happens again next year, what kind of impact can that have on the way a young position player develops and your offense develops?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: The funny thing about it, I just mentioned like we had to improvise a lot. We used to use openers, and it wasn't really openers, it was the bullpen, and you call it an opener because somebody had to open the game, but it wasn't really an opening day for an opener, but we played good. So if I have to do the same thing because we couldn't find any, that's okay. That would mean our guys, our AAA guys may get a chance to show what they can do again.

Q. Does it make it harder for your young players when there's no stability -- or for your position players when there's no stability on the pitching side?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Maybe, maybe, but I'll tell you what, that's what I like about our group. Our kids are awesome, and they're going to play hard. It doesn't matter -- they don't have any control over what happens around them, and they know that. You're going to see these kids just play hard just like they do every day.

Q. Traditionally at the positions up the middle, you're kind of looking at defensive first players where their number one tools are defense, and last year you had guys who are more offense first players up the middle. Is there anywhere you'd like to see guys where defense is their number one tool at those positions?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Yeah, for us to be a championship team, you've got to have defense. Pitching and defense wins championships, and that's where we want to get to. Bichette got better at second base because we put him there every day. My idea at the beginning was to move him around, but Ross' idea was, no, let's see how good he plays second. He played second base every day, and he did well. He got better, and he was fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Bichette was a pleasant surprise how good he played short. For us to be good, he has to be a good shortstop, and he was really good.

And Vlad is only going to get better. He's only going to get better. And Grichuk is an above average outfield player. Gurriel played really good for not even playing left field before. He did an outstanding job. And of course, we need to get better in centerfield. That's a fact. You guys know that. That's not a total surprise.

And, of course, our catching. Solid teams want our catching, I'll tell you that right now. They're asking about our guys, and we've got two good ones right there. That's big because, you want to be a championship team, you want to have the middle -- catching, second base, centerfield, and all that stuff. But our two catchers are pretty good.

Q. You got a look at a lot of your young starters late in the season, especially over the final two months. Is there anyone that you're optimistic about that's going to make a contribution next year?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: That's what I love about the schedule we had, they faced the best teams in baseball. It's a good test for these kids. They came from international league to facing Houston and the Dodgers and Atlanta and all those teams, and I thought they did really well.

Q. Have you had much contact with the players in the off-season?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: I just talked to Danny Jansen today. Danny's one of my favorites. They're getting together all the players. They're planning to get together just to talk about baseball and keep talking about how can we get to the championship team that we want to be and stuff. So I think that's awesome. That was Danny's idea.

Q. Now that you've had a couple months to let it sink in, what do you think you'll do differently in your second year as a manager? What did you learn from your first year?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: I'm just looking forward to work with these kids again. That's my mindset. I'm very lucky to have the team that I have. What's the oldest guy, Anthony Alford? He's got the most time, I think.

Q. He's the longest serving.
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Longest service time. That's the team that we have, and I love it. We're only going to get better.

Q. Charlie, you have a lot of young starting pitchers. Do you think experienced pitchers will add to your team?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: Of course. That's always going to help. And, again, like I said before, every team here is looking for starters because you can never have enough. That's just a fact.

Q. Charlie, you dealt with this a lot when you were with the Rays too, when you see the reports that the Yankees are supposedly going in heavy on Cole and the realities of the American League, what runs through your mind when you see one of your arch rivals go after somebody that big?
CHARLIE MONTOYO: It's a tough division, everybody knows that. I knew that going into it because I was with the Rays. So it is what it is. The one thing I know, that we can compete with the Yankees and stuff because we did last year. We were 8-11 or something against the Yankees, so we competed against them. Yeah, it's a tough league.

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