Blue Jays: Will we see John Gibbons as a MLB manager again?

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 10: Manager John Gibbons
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 10: Manager John Gibbons /

After the Blue Jays formally announced that John Gibbons would not be returning in 2019, the skipper let it be known that he’ll always be a “Blue Jay”. He also mentioned that he’s not done with managing, if another opportunity come along.

Back in 2003, the Blue Jays hired a relatively unknown man by the name of John Gibbons to be their bullpen coach, and by 2004 he had found his way into the manager’s seat in Toronto. The tenure had mixed results, and being a head coach of a professional sports team doesn’t offer much job security, something Gibbons found out in 2008 when his first job as a big league skipper came to an end after parts of five seasons.

After bouncing around to a few different positions around the game, Gibbons had been unable to land himself another bench boss gig, that was until a familiar voice came calling.

The Blue Jays did the unexpected before the 2013 season, bringing back their former skipper for a second go-around. While there were a few other names that had been considered at the time, then-GM Alex Anthopoulos said that he felt most comfortable with Gibbons, and was more than confident that he was the right man for the job. That second tenure has lasted six more seasons, and will come to a conclusion later this week when the Blue Jays finish their calendar out against Tampa Bay.

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We already know that Gibbons won’t be returning next year, as the club made the formal announcement on Wednesday, giving fans a chance to properly say farewell to a well liked figure in the city, and around the country. As I’ve talked about many times, he has been polarizing for many people too, but that’s part of what comes with being a manager in almost all cases.

All in all he’ll finish just above the .500 mark throughout his almost 1600 games managed in Toronto, with his current record sitting at 791-787. He also guided the team to their two recent playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, when the Jays lost out to the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians in the ALCS in consecutive years.

At 56, Gibbons could likely choose to ride off into the baseball sunset and retire from being on the road all the time. There’s a good chance the Blue Jays would even hire him in some sort of advisory position, which would allow him to stay home more and give him a significantly reduced workload. However, it doesn’t sound like Gibbons is ready for any of that just yet, depending on what opportunities come along of course.

In case you didn’t watch the clip above (it’s worthwhile), Gibbons mentions that he’s “not old, but I’m not young”, and that he would like to continue managing, but “these jobs are hard to come by”. He also flat out said that he’s not ready to retire, and would love to remain around the game.

With baseball’s movement towards more youthful managers and a more analytical approach to being the skipper, “old school” guys like Gibbons haven’t been the popular choice in recent years. That said, he’s a very well liked character with a ton of experience, and in the right environment he would likely make a great choice. He has always been known as a skipper that does well at handling veterans, and he even mentioned that he felt he’d be a great fit to guide the young players in Toronto these days as well, even if the timing of this rebuild doesn’t make a lot of sense for either party.

There will be a few jobs available in 2019, like the recent vacancy left in Texas, or the rumoured dismissal of Buck Showalter in Baltimore, Jim Riggleman in Cincinnati, or Mike Scioscia in Los Angeles. While it’s possible he could get himself an interview , it’s likely more realistic that he’ll be dealing with at least one season away from the manager’s seat, and maybe a few before another opportunity comes up. I have no doubt that he can and/or will get another job of some kind in baseball next year, but it may not be likely he gets another of those coveted jobs right away.

It’s also possible that he never gets another big league manager’s job, and if that’s the case then he has nothing to be ashamed of. His current mark of 791 wins is good for 82nd all-time among big league managers, and 2nd in Blue Jays history behind only Cito Gaston. If those are his final tallies, they are nothing to sneeze at.

dark. Next. Somtimes it just comes down to personnel

As much as the game is trending younger on the field, in the front office, and in the manager’s chair, Gibbons is a respected baseball man, and there’s a really good chance this won’t be the last we see of him in a big league dugout. If and when that next team hires the now 56 year old, they’ll most definitely be getting a great human being, and a pretty darn good manager.