Mark Shapiro, the President and CEO of the Blue Jays, is only under contract until the end of the 2020 season. What happens now for him in Toronto?
There will be a lot of complicated variables for MLB executives to navigate over the coming weeks and even months, and I imagine things will be very much in limbo until we have some answers about the future of baseball in 2020.
That’s the unfortunate reality for the players, the fans, and for the front offices across the game, but there could be another interesting factor to deal with at some point this year. The Blue Jays were set to enter the season with Mark Shapiro working under the final year of his current contract as President and CEO, and the two sides had yet to work out an extension.
According to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, there were talks around the idea back in October, but it didn’t sound like anything was particularly close at the time. We do know that Ross Atkins, the Blue Jays GM, is under contract until after the 2021 season, and he has been closely tied to Shapiro throughout his career in baseball, including being hired by Shapiro to come to Toronto. All along I personally expected that Shapiro would be extended until the end of 2021, and all parties could re-evaluate at the end of the 2020 campaign to see where things were at with the front office.
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Fast forward to today, and we’re now facing the very real threat that there may not be any baseball in 2020. That’s a terribly depressing thought for a number of reasons, but it could also be relevant when it comes to the Blue Jays’ situation with Shapiro. For the purposes of this thought train, let’s assume there will be no baseball this season.
Without having any inside information whatsoever, I would still be surprised to see Shapiro leave with Atkins under contract for another year. The Blue Jays could decide to move on to a different front office group and fire Atkins with a year left on his contract this fall, but it’s hard to see them making that decision now, especially without a 2020 campaign to evaluate their work. After focusing on building a homegrown core and rebuilding the roster for the last few years, Atkins and company went out and acquired some real help this winter including Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and more. On paper it was an exciting winter for the Blue Jays, and it would be hard to justify moving on from the front office team without getting to see the fruits of their work.
All that said, Shapiro has been linked to other positions in the past, even in other sports. It’s hard to know what could be on the table for the 53-year-old until a decision has been made either way, he has downplayed any rumours of that sort, and has repeatedly stated he is interested in seeing the job through.
“I’ve been clear and consistent about enjoying where I am and wanting to be here. From a competitive perspective, I want to finish the job. That’s incredibly important to me.”
Once again, my assumption is that if there’s no baseball this year, the Blue Jays and Shapiro will be interested in at least a one year extension to his current deal. Without getting a chance to see what this current group can do, it’s pretty hard for anyone to make a decision about the future at the moment.
As I said at the beginning, I don’t expect it will be a priority for the immediate future for the Blue Jays or for Shapiro, but we’ll see if and how that changes as the suspension of play continues. Hopefully there will still be baseball this season, but one way or another the decision on Shapiro’s future is coming later this year.