The futures of Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and general manager Alex Anthopoulos are not in immediate question. But the team’s entire dynamic could change if team president Paul Beeston departs.
Beeston, 69, is in the final year of his contract. He is a strong supporter of Anthopoulos, sources say, and Anthopoulos hired Gibbons to replace John Farrell after the 2012 season.
Would Beeston leave a team he has served for 33 of its 38 years? It would appear a long shot, but Beeston’s uncertain status is attracting attention in the industry.
Beeston did not return a call seeking comment. Some baseball people believe that he signaled his intention to leave the Jays when he joined a group of ownership representatives who tried to get Red Sox chairman Tom Werner elected commissioner over Rob Manfred.
If Werner had been elected, then perhaps Beeston could have returned to the commissioner’s office, where he worked from 1997 to 2002. But after opposing Manfred, that option might not be available to Beeston now.
The Jays’ corporate parent, Rogers Communications, hired a new CEO, Guy Laurence, last January. How the change in leadership will affect the company’s relationship with Beeston — if at all — is not clear.
An immediate decision on Gibbons is not necessary — his contract is through 2015. But if Gibbons is still the manager on Jan. 1, a rollover clause would extend his deal through ’16, effectively giving him two years.
Kirk Gibson had a similar arrangement in his deal with the Diamondbacks, but the rollover date was Oct. 1, sources said. Thus, the team needed to decide by Wednesday if it wanted to avoid paying Gibson in ’16. The D-Backs chose to fire him instead.
Anthopoulous, the Jays’ GM since Oct. 3, 2009, has one year left on his deal, according to the Toronto Sun. The team’s cumulative record during Anthopoulos’ tenure is 396-413 (.489). But in some ways, his recent performance is difficult to judge.
Rival executives say that Anthopoulos was handcuffed by payroll restrictions from ownership this season, enabling the Orioles — and not the Jays — to seize the AL East.
The Jays, who have not made the playoffs in 21 years, held first place for 61 days, but entered the final day of the season tied with the Yankees for second place at 83-78.
Injuries to players such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, third baseman Brett Lawrie and first baseman/DH Adam Lind contributed to the Jays’ troubles. But the Orioles also suffered significant losses, and were more aggressive addressing their needs.
The Jays failed to land one of their big trade targets, Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija, and two other players that could have helped them, Padres third baseman Chase Headley and D-Backs righty Brandon McCarthy, went to the Yankees.
The flip side is that the Jays retained all of their top young talent after depleting their system during the 2012-13 offseason by making a blockbuster trade with the Marlins and acquiring R.A. Dickey in another deal with the Mets.
The Jays’ competitive window, though, will last only so long; Encarnacion and right fielder Jose Bautista, two of the game’s leading sluggers, are under club control only through ’16.
The team ultimately must decide whether it wants Gibbons under contract for that entire window. The departure of Beeston, if it happens, could trigger a decision sooner rather than later.