Amid reports of tension between the Blue Jays front office and ownership, now there are rumours of interest in Mark Shapiro from the New York Mets according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
When a team struggles as badly as the Blue Jays have this year, change is inevitable. I’ve said it repeatedly throughout the year, and that fact rings true on multiple levels including the roster, the coaching staff, and maybe elsewhere as well.
One of the places we haven’t been expecting change would be in the Blue Jays front office. They should take their share of the blame for the way this season has gone, but considering that they inherited a playoff team put together by Alex Anthopoulos a couple years ago, they haven’t really been able to build their own foundation. Generally speaking, a team of front office executives will get a chance to do that at least once before they’re let go from an organization.
With that in mind it looked like Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro would finally get to put the Blue Jays through the rebuild they’re been waiting to execute, and one that’s arguably at least a year overdue. This has been a team that’s registered as the oldest in baseball in multiple seasons, but after a plethora of July and August trades that no longer rings true. This is slowly but surely becoming a new generation, and a team that Shapiro and Atkins can put their own stamp on.
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However, depending on how much stock you put into the rumour mill, there’s a chance we may never see a team that’s been put together by Shapiro, at least according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In an article published yesterday, Sherman details an apparent rift between the Blue Jays front office and the ownership group, as well as rumours of interest in Shapiro from the Mets, and also in Ben Cherington, who works in the Blue Jays front office as well and has experience as a GM from his time in Boston.
The reports of tension between Shapiro and Rogers ownership aren’t new, and may have even been a little bit understandable given the way this season has gone for the Blue Jays. Not only have they struggled in the standings, they also failed to get top dollar back for a few trade pieces like Josh Donaldson, and Roberto, though how much at fault should stick with Shapiro and Atkins in those cases is up for debate.
Sherman mentions that the rumours are swirling in baseball circles and that, “multiple executives said they believe enough tension exists between Shapiro and his bosses that he could want to find the exit”. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen, and there are several variables in play here.
"“…..multiple executives said they believe enough tension exists between Shapiro and his bosses that he could want to find the exit.”"
Shapiro has two years remaining on his current contract in Toronto, and he’s being paid four million dollars per year. That’s not something you just walk away from, unless of course there is a better offer on the table (or you’re Alex Anthopoulos, although that worked out just fine for the former Jays GM). It would likely also mean that the Mets might have to figure out some sort of compensation for the Blue Jays to let him go, assuming of course that they don’t part ways beforehand.
The mention of Ben Cherington being a candidate for GM in New York makes some sense, but also strikes me as a complicating factor for Shapiro here. It’s not as if he owes Ross Atkins anything at this stage, but the two of them have operated as a team in many ways, and it would feel a little weird for Shapiro to depart and Atkins to remain. In that case the Blue Jays would then be searching for a new President and CEO, and that individual may not want to keep Atkins around. It’s an awkward situation most of the time, and the Blue Jays were fortunate that they could get their new front office to work well with John Gibbons as the manager, let alone forming a President/GM relationship on the fly.
For what it’s worth, I have a hard time seeing this happen for Shapiro and the Mets, even if there is mutual interest. The Mets have to be careful not to let any confirmed rumours get out until/unless they ask the Blue Jays for permission to negotiate with Shapiro, and chances are that wouldn’t happen until after the season anyway.
Shapiro is also on the cusp of getting to put his vision into motion in Toronto, and unless the relationship with ownership is beyond repair it’s difficult to imagine him giving up on what’s sitting in front of him. With the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, and the #3 minor league system in baseball on the verge of becoming big leaguers, this could a sought after job if he doesn’t want to remain in Toronto.
I do respect Sherman’s writing though, so I believe that where there’s smoke there’s likely some fire as well. Whether or not that amounts to anything in the next month or two remains to be seen, but it would definitely throw another wrench into the Blue Jays plans as they look to build another winner in Toronto.