Adding former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is a coup for the Blue Jays’ front office

Ben Cherington
Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Jesus, Jays, I only have so many hands, and there are only so many directions my brain can go in at once, but even though I have a couple of posts already on the go, this is a drop everything kind of story right here.

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting this afternoon that, as the title of this post says, former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is on the verge of being hired by the Blue Jays as VP of Baseball Operations — a role that will see him report to Ross Atkins. Shi’s sources say that “he’ll work with many facets of the front office’s baseball side, with an emphasis on player development.”

Perhaps certain Red Sox fans will laugh, and perhaps certain lazy Jays fans and writers will lament the fact that he has a connection back to Cleveland (though Shi notes he was only there for a year, way back in 1998), but to my mind this is a bit of a coup.

For one, other teams reportedly held talks with him, and the fact that he chose to come here is, I think, an endorsement of what this organization is doing, and a sign that the Jays can go and get some of the best talent in the game. Of course, the only reason I can say that is through a particularly rosy view of his time in Boston — which certainly had its hits and misses before he left the club last year, after Dave Dombrowski was hired over him.

A lot of the Red Sox’ core of up-and-coming young players arrived and blossomed under Cherington’s watch — and, more importantly (and maybe more in line with how the Jays’ Shapiro-Atkins regime thinks), a lot of them were held onto, despite pressures to win in the short term. Surely there were moments when Cherington could have moved guys like Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Benintendi, Moncada, etc., but to his credit he didn’t.

We can’t give him *too* much credit for that, I guess, and we can’t overlook some of his horrific mistakes — *COUGH* Pablo Sandoval, Rusney Castillo, Allen Craig *COUGH* — even if we might tend to give the Red Sox’ ownership a big share of the blame for those. But even in some parts of Boston the good of his tenure is starting to outshine the bad. This week in the Boston Globe, Nick “take this with a mountain of salt” Cafardo looked back at Cherington’s tenure, noting much of what I’ve just outlined in terms of the hits and misses, while also suggesting that he was in demand.

“I think the Twins would love him as their president. Just don’t know if he would move there,” one AL GM told Cafardo.

I also quite like, mostly for selfish reasons (i.e. because it will be a handy fact in arguments with Shapiro-hating nitwits), that he’s coming from a big market, big spending team. He certainly doesn’t fit the laughable profile of someone who knows how to slash budget and is here to slash budget, which too many Jays fans are still, insufferably, inclined to believe (and too often encouraged to do so by local writers).

The Red Sox are strong on player development, strong in the international market, strong in the draft, and simply one of the best-run organizations in the game, despite a couple shitty seasons and a few big budget mistakes that cost Cherington his job. And this is the guy who was running them, and a key lieutenant to Theo Epstein, who now runs the Cubs, before that. Cherington having insight into and connections guys to hire? Cherington understanding what did and didn’t work for the Red Sox in terms of player development?

There really isn’t anything not to like about this. Just one more impressive voice in the room.

Mark Shapiro evidently thinks so — and has for a while:

I know people think I’m a little too kind to this new front office the Jays are putting together, but seriously.