With the Blue Jays adding Ross Atkins at general manager without losing Tony LaCava, the Toronto front office is looking more like a collaborative effort
Why pick one when you can have both? That’s the simplest thinking behind Mark Shapiro and the Toronto Blue Jays electing to hire former Indians executive Ross Atkins over Tony LaCava as the full-time general manager.
LaCava agreed to a contract extension with the Blue Jays when he was named to the job on an interim capacity one month ago, admitting that he’d be content in whatever role Shapiro eventually asked him to fill. That extension and those statements don’t come without LaCava truly being okay with a supporting assignment.
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Following the news that Atkins had been hired, LaCava was given a new role. Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and Assistant General Manager. It’s a mouthful, much like any job title in a Major League front office currently. The Blue Jays, like many organizations, are shifting towards a collaborative approach to baseball and personnel decisions. Gone are the days of a one-man GM show.
This is beneficial for several reasons, the foremost of which is that it prevents an all-powerful general manager from trumping the voices around him in the front office. Atkins comes with an extensive background in player development and international prospects, especially relative to his age (only 42), so he and LaCava could compliment each other quite well.
What this means in the here and now is that not much should change. Thursday saw an eruption of misplaced anger from Blue Jays fans who hadn’t heard the words “Ross Atkins” until quite recently, but given that he represents something different, especially something related to Mark Shapiro, he naturally being treated as an idiot until proven otherwise. Life trudges on in Blue Jays land.
Many have assumed that this signals a great change towards the Indians way of business, but there’s no concrete reason to predict that. Shapiro and Atkins now find themselves in a wholly different situation with a completely different roster and budget limitations that are far above what they had to work with in Cleveland. They’ll adapt, and they’ll work within their new situation. For better or for worse, admittedly.
But the notion that a new sheriff is about to gallop into town and remake this roster in the span of a week is entirely baseless. If the Blue Jays were planning on spending $7.5 million at the Winter Meetings before this announcement, they’re planning on spending $7.5 million after it. If Shapiro and LaCava have decided that Ben Revere is on the move, Atkins won’t be vetoing the deal on day one.
There will be an easing-in process, and these next two weeks are where LaCava could show his greatest value of all. He’ll bridge the gap again between new and old with Atkins just as he did with Shapiro. The best case short-term scenario here is that Atkins brings over further intel from Cleveland that Toronto lacks, including players they’ve found to be available and the potential asking prices. Long-term, they’ve added an intelligent baseball mind that helps to further fill out a much larger collaborative effort at the top in Toronto.