Shapiro to become Blue Jays president, CEO
Indians president will take over for retiring Beeston at season's end
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' search for a new president is over, as it was revealed on Monday that veteran Indians front-office executive Mark Shapiro will be the successor to Paul Beeston.
Ownership group Rogers Communications and the Indians acknowledged the move in public statements issued Monday morning. Shapiro will take over at season's end for Beeston, who previously announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season.
Shapiro is a two-time Sporting News Executive of the Year and has spent half his life working in the Indians organization. He will also be chief executive officer of the Blue Jays and Rogers Centre.
"Toronto is a world-class city and sports mecca, with an exciting ballclub that has support from Canadians all across the country," Shapiro said in a statement released by Rogers. "The Toronto Blue Jays are a first-rate organization with outstanding leadership from Paul Beeston and a firm commitment from ownership to field a winning team.
"I am excited to be part of the Rogers team and work with Guy Laurence and Rick Brace, and am honored to be following in the footsteps of one of baseball's greatest leaders, as I look to build on the franchise's strong foundation and legacy in Canadian sport."
The 48-year-old Shapiro joined Cleveland in 1992 and eventually moved his way up to director of player development before becoming general manager in 2001. Shapiro spent nine years in the role and was the architect behind a pair of postseason teams with 90-plus wins in 2005 and '07.
Following the conclusion of the 2010 season, Shapiro was promoted to team president while his assistant Chris Antonetti took over as GM. One of the top highlights from his presidency was implementing a dramatic multiphase, privately funded renovation at Progressive Field that was met with rave reviews.
Under his watch, the Indians made changes to the center-field entrance, right-field concourse, added a two-level rooftop bar and expanded its kids clubhouse to two stories. Those upgrades had to be appealing to the Blue Jays, who are in the process of examining the possibility of adding natural grass to Rogers Centre and renovating the stadium that opened in 1989.
"Through my 24 years as part of the Cleveland Indians, I have developed a deep emotional and civic attachment to the Indians organization and the Cleveland community," Shapiro said. "The root of those ties is in the personal relationships that my family and I have built.
"While weighing those bonds carefully and seriously, I feel the unique and compelling nature of the Blue Jays president/CEO position warranted my consideration. This position represents a unique opportunity for me and one that I felt was the right new challenge to undertake."
Rogers Communications began searching for Beeston's replacement last offseason. Calls on behalf of the organization were made to White Sox executive Kenny Williams and Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette, but the search was eventually called off. The Blue Jays instead agreed to bring Beeston back for one more year before retirement while the search continued.
There were also rumblings about an interest in Shapiro over the winter, but he publicly became the leading candidate on Aug. 20, when FoxSports.com reported the two sides were engaged in extensive talks.
"Mark is a seasoned baseball veteran, whose leadership, drive for excellence and commitment to all aspects of the game is impressive," Blue Jays chairman Edward Rogers said. "We have confidence that he is the right person to lead the Toronto Blue Jays into the future and build upon the franchise's legacy."
One of Shapiro's first responsibilities will be deciding the fate of general manager Alex Anthopoulos, whose contract expires at the end of the year. There was a time when it appeared as though Anthopoulos' job security was in question, but his overwhelming success at the Trade Deadline combined with the club's path to the postseason likely means he will be welcomed back with open arms.
Shapiro and Anthopoulos seem to be relatively familiar with each other. Over the last several years, Anthopoulos has occasionally mentioned Shapiro as someone he got in touch with to talk about the business aspect of the game and to occasionally seek advice.
The decision to leave Cleveland must have been a difficult one for Shapiro, but there are a few reasons it might have been too good to pass up. The Indians are a small-market organization with a payroll that was in the $80 million to $87 million range from 2012-15. Toronto has spent at least $119 million in each of those years, and the figure could be going up even higher with a run into the postseason.
Shapiro is expected to receive a significant raise to relocate, and he's set to join an organization that hasn't been in this good of shape since 1993. Toronto has been enjoying record ratings on television and has sold out each of its past six home games as baseball fever has swept across the city and country.
"I have known Mark for many years. He is an exemplary executive and his passion for baseball and winning is remarkable," Beeston said. "I am happy to pass him the baton -- but not just yet; Alex, the team, and I have a little more work to do and we're focused on putting more Ws in the win column."
The Blue Jays are well-positioned for 2016 as well with only a handful of prominent pending free agents, including Mark Buehrle and the recently acquired David Price. The other major pieces are in place at least through the end of 2016, with a core of Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin also locked up through 2018.