Blue Jays: Tony LaCava the likeliest Anthopoulos successor?
When the dust finally settles around the Blue Jays and Alex Anthopoulos, the first step in moving forward will be the naming of a new general manager. If incoming president Mark Shapiro chooses to instill some level of continuity that initially looked lost with the departure of Anthopoulos, the primary internal candidate should be his longtime right-hand man Tony LaCava.
The 54-year old Pittsburgh native originally joined the Blue Jays in 2002 as Assistant to the General Manager, and would be promoted to the role of Assistant General Manager in 2007 (a change in title that Dwight Schrute would be proud of). Through his time working with Anthopoulos, he has consistently been credited with not just playing a supporting role, but being the driving force behind several impact moves.
This has not gone unnoticed around baseball, either, and the Blue Jays are fortunate to have held on to LaCava for as long as they have. He was rumored to have been offered the GM job in Baltimore prior to the 2012 season, recently interviewed with the Los Angeles Angels and is a regular in the job-vacancy rumor mill.
LaCava comes from a scouting background, and did briefly cross paths with Shapiro during his Cleveland days. While there’s been no suggestion that the two are great friends, it at least makes LaCava somewhat of a “known” commodity to Shapiro.
Step one in this process is LaCava agreeing to stay within the organization. Many have suggested that his loyalty to the vision of Anthopoulos may cause him to look for an opportunity elsewhere. Similar to his departing friend, LaCava could be turned off by the level of control offered by the current Jays opening.
It could also represent somewhat of a happy medium between Shapiro’s ways and the ways of old. Whether it forges a new hybrid philosophy of just helps to smoothen a transition, there is value in familiarity. That’s the same reason I would expect John Gibbons to remain at the helm in 2016. Given the win-now state of this roster, overdoing the shake-up from day one could quickly shave a year off the current playoff window.
If you believe much of what Anthopoulos said during his Thirsday conference call, which I do, Rogers and Shapiro did genuinely want him to return. This suggests to me that there will not be a hard right turn made from the current strategy. Adjustments, of course, but any level of openness to the current Jays management structure could leave the door cracked open for LaCava.
The optics of such a move would also be kinder to Shapiro and Rogers than, say, bringing over an old friend from Cleveland. A narrative has quickly been crafted that Shapiro is set to ride into Toronto and hit ‘reset’, but stepping sideways to promote LaCava represents the likeliest internal solution.
Next: Is John Gibbons likely the next man out?