Blue Jays next hire could be figurehead for GM-by-committee


All eyes are on the exiting general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, but sooner rather than later, the organization will need a replacement. Assistant general manager and longtime Anthopoulos lieutenant Tony LaCava is the likeliest internal candidate, while Shapiro and Rogers ownership could also scour the league or reach back into the Cleveland ranks. Regardless of who the next hire is, though, it may not change much.

Whether that’s is good or bad will be determined over the coming offseason, but the circumstances around the departure of Anthopoulos suggest that Shapiro, at some level, will be involved with the player personnel side of the front office. Whereas Anthopoulos worked with full autonomy, within the advice of his staff and payroll limitations from above, the incoming general manager will need to answer to Shapiro at some point.

Will this new hire get 95% of the rope, only having to obtain a final green light from the president? That seems to be the most autonomous situation possible, and even then, it’s not ideal. Should the new hire be LaCava, he’d be the team captain of the Blue Jays front office. A ‘C’ sewn on to his chest, but still a smaller part of a larger whole.

For some organizations this is an approach that works. For the Blue jays, the challenge will be to strike a balance quickly, as the fast-approaching free agent period leaves absolutely zero time for a learning curve or adjustment. If new and old can forge a beneficial marriage, fantastic. If not, then the Jays will be playing with a short deck.

Toronto’s front office holdovers, led by LaCava and Tinnish, have been holding meetings regarding the 2016 offseason for months. They’ve established free agent targets, circled players potentially available in trade and decided on a strategy. While it would be wrong for Shapiro to step in and wipe the board clean, it may also be wrong for him to sit quietly in the back of the room.

In his time with the Indians, Shapiro would have gained valuable knowledge through their own trade negotiations. Who is available, what their price is, and so on. He’ll have his own targets through the league. Ones that he was unable to wrangle in with Cleveland’s assets, but they may be easier to match up on with his new stable of talent. There’s room for these suggestions, but again, the midway point needs to be found properly and swiftly.

If these will be the parameters of the job, my feeling is that an internal candidate becomes even more likely. While an external hire would prefer to call the shots in a GM role, someone like LaCava would be more likely to consider a bump in title and pay despite occupying a similar role in final decisions. That’s easier to stomach if it doesn’t change the address of your office.

The opportunity, however small, still does exist that Shapiro becomes far more involved in player personnel decisions than we’ve yet assumed. Yes, I’m talking GM Mark Shapiro. So while that remains unlikely, the next name rolled out by Rogers won’t do much to alter my opinion on the team’s direction or management philosophy.