In the aftermath of the Josh Donaldson trade and in the midst of a lost season, being a member of the Blue Jays front office can’t be an uplifting exercise right now. Sure, things look promising for the future with players like Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette in the farm system.
In the interim, the Blue Jays’ big league roster looks rough.
Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have a difficult task ahead of them; contend with the juggernauts of the AL East, don’t screw up Vlad Jr., modernize a nearly 30-year-old stadium and find ways to increase revenue streams for a rebuilding franchise.
Sometimes, the grass isn’t greener on the other side after all. Given the way things have gone with the Blue Jays this year, it’s not hard to fault Shapiro if he wondered what things might be like elsewhere.
Last week, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe mused about whether Shapiro might be a good fit for the vacant GM job with the New York Mets. Blue Jays Nation’s own Ryan De Francesco covered this in a piece last week.
This was the first report of the Mets being any sort of landing spot for Shapiro. Now, there’s a second report.
Where there’s smoke, maybe there’s fire? Joel Sherman of the New York Post ran through the list of potential candidiates to be the next Mets executive. Among them? Shapiro himself.
Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro was mentioned by multiple executives as a potential candidate, coming as president of baseball operations and in one scenario bringing fellow Toronto executive and former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to be the GM.
The Ben Cherington stuff isn’t all that surprising. Ever since he was hired as VP of Baseball Operations, it seems like he’s been working his way back to an eventual spot in the GM’s chair with another club.
Shapiro’s status is a little more complicated. Sherman maps out the details of his deal and adds some fuel to the rumoured rift between Shapiro and Rogers.
Shapiro has two years remaining on a contract that pays him about $4 million annually, and multiple executives said they believe enough tension exists between Shapiro and his bosses that he could want to find the exit.
If, and that’s a big if, there’s any credence to this, the only precedent for a president quitting and moving to another team is Theo Epstein leaving the Red Sox and jumping ship to the Chicago Cubs. It’s unclear the term and dollars remaining on Epstein’s original contract with the Red Sox, but they netted a pair of pitching prospects as compensation.
As awkward and weird as it would be to have a team president resign and then re-sign with another club, it’s been done in the past. But in order for that to happen with Shapiro and the Mets, things must be really bad with Blue Jays ownership.
A few weeks ago, Bob McCown hinted at this rift on Prime Time Sports:
Shapiro at least, because he’s in a more senior position, has not exactly endeared himself to the uppety-ups here at the company that owns this baseball team. The relationship between Shapiro and the upper-suits at Rogers isn’t exactly a-okay. It wouldn’t surprise me if the guy who gets gunned down at the end of this season ain’t the president and not the manager.
If we’re trying to surmise why Shapiro has reason to have tension with ownership, this is just a guess, but it could be in relation to the much-needed renovations to the Rogers Centre. Earlier this year, the Blue Jays’ president mapped out three renovation plan tiers. As of today, the long-awaited Rogers Centre renovation timeline has yet to be made public.
During his days with the Indians, Shapiro spearheaded a $25 million renovation and modernization of Progressive Field. Any iteration of a Rogers Centre renovation – whether it’s at the top tier or lowest tier – would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
One of the reasons why Shapiro jumped ship from Cleveland from Toronto was because he was hamstrung by one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Despite a reputation as a frugal team, the Blue Jays have a healthy payroll and operate close to a Top 10 payroll in baseball.
Oddly enough, which team has nearly the same payroll in 2018 as the Blue Jays? The Mets, of course. It’s not like the Mets organization has vastly more resources and a higher ceiling for payroll; the Mets and Jays seem on par in those regards.
After spending the last three years building the farm system back up to a Top 5 prospect pool, it’s hard to believe Shapiro would leave it all to sign up with the Mets. Again, unless there’s so much tension between Shapiro and ownership that Shapiro feels it’s untenable, it’s too messy have him walk away from the Blue Jays.
Then again, not many foresaw John Farrell’s trade to the Red Sox. It’s messy and awkward, but transactions like these have taken place in the past. And if there’s any truth whatsoever to these reports, Shapiro’s “dream job” may lie in the big apple, not in the “big smoke”.