TORONTO- The search is over as the Toronto Blue Jays named Mark Shapiro as the club’s newest president. Shapiro will be the next successor to Paul Beeston, who will retire after the 2015 season.
Shapiro is a solid hiring for the Blue Jays going forward.
The 48-year old spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians since 1992. Started off as player development director and became the general manager in 2001. He was named Executive of the Year by Sporting News in 2002 and 2007. He helped reshape the Indians to win the AL Central Division Championship in 2007. He then became the Indians’ president in 2010 while his assistant Chris Antonetti took over as GM.
Ownership Rogers Communications began the search for Beeston’s replacement since last offseason. Calls were made for Chicago White Sox’s Kenny Williams and Baltimore Orioles’ Dan Duquette, but fell apart due to a high asking price for compensation. They also contacted Dave Dombrowski before taking the offer from the Boston Red Sox.
Shapiro’s track record makes him a solid candidate to be the Blue Jays’ go-to-guy. Now that he has enter the long term equation for the Blue Jays, decisions will have to be made.
The first responsibility will be deciding the fate of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, whose contract expires at the end of the year. Early this season, there were some speculation about Anthopoulos’ job security. However, thanks to his aggressive approach at the trade deadline, he is most likely to remain as GM for the Blue Jays going forward. Shapiro and Anthopoulos have a great working relationship. Over the last several years, Anthopoulos has occasionally mentioned that Shapiro is someone to talk about the business aspect of the game and seek advice.
On the baseball side, the Blue Jays will have to face some questions involving their core of players. That includes the attempt to resign pending free agent Price and figuring out on whether to sign Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to contract extensions, both have club options for 2016.
On the business side, Shapiro will also have the say in making executive decisions in baseball operations. He was a significant part of the renovation of Progressive Field. With the Toronto Argonauts moving to BMO field next year, Shapiro can reshape the club’s strategy to get rid of the artificial turf and install grass at the Rogers Centre, a project that Beeston started several years ago. It’s still have a long way to go and a lot of groundwork need to be in place. But it seem likely that natural grass will come to the Rogers Centre in 2018.
Being Beeston’s next successor will not be an easy task. However, he is what the Blue Jays needed. Shapiro possesses an appealing blend of business and baseball experience. Going to the Blue Jays will gives him the chance to operate in a bigger market with a higher payroll and more flexibility.