When the Toronto Blue Jays announced that had hired former Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington as their new vice president of baseball operations, the questions that followed were what you’d expect.
Can he come out of the bullpen? Do the Blue Jays really expect this to turn around their ugly September? Why another Cleveland Indians hire?
Cherington worked one year as a scout for the Indians in 1998. Canadians born in 1998 will be able to order a glass of wine with dinner next year, so let’s bury that idea and lay some concrete over it.
The 42-year-old remains a valued front office commodity in Major League Baseball and, since resigning from the Red Sox after Dave Dombrowski’s arrival in 2015, has been a common name linked to prominent vacancies league-wide. The Blue Jays’ recent struggles make it rather easy to view this addition as something other than what it is, but it’s important to recognize that front office hiring cycles have their own calendar.
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Toronto’s recent string of personnel changes, especially at the player development level and this hiring of Cherington, do not come at a particularly surprising time. The MLB Draft has ended, the minor league season has wrapped up, and in terms of their prospect capital, the organization is already looking towards their 2017 development.
Cherington is expected to report to general manager Ross Atkins and work closely the Blue Jays’ director of player development Gil Kim. Along with senior vice president of baseball operations and assistant general manager Tony LaCava, the Blue Jays now have several personnel in their front office that could, within the realm of possibility, be running teams elsewhere.
This new-age front office structure holds a great deal of benefits when it is done right, and given the transition state of Toronto’s farm system, Cherington’s addition should be seen as a positive step.
Past moves like the Pablo Sandoval signing are an easy target — especially when forgetting the legitimate wishes of many for Sandoval to sign in Toronto at the time — but Cherington’s fingerprints are all over the Red Sox roster that has surged ahead in the American League East on the back of young, affordable, and dynamic talent.