Blue Jays reportedly seeking replacement for Beeston
Toronto said to have asked to talk with Duquette of O's, Williams of White Sox
SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays reportedly are actively seeking a replacement for longtime president and CEO Paul Beeston.
According to a report from ESPN, Toronto's search has progressed to the point where it is identifying possible candidates. The report also suggests that the Blue Jays have asked for permission to talk with Baltimore's Dan Duquette and Chicago's Ken Williams, though both men downplayed any potential match on Sunday.
Via text message, Williams told MLB.com that "that ship has sailed." A Major League source told MLB.com that some weeks back, Toronto was denied permission to speak with Williams, the White Sox executive vice president, regarding the potential opening.
Duquette, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, arrived at the annual Winter Meetings in San Diego on Sunday afternoon and was immediately bombarded with questions about Toronto.
Duquette declined comment but he later appeared on MLB Network Radio and said: "I'm with the Orioles. I'm here to represent the Orioles at the Meetings. Other than that, I have nothing to add. I do have a contract and I've always honored my contract."
Asked if he was unhappy in Baltimore, Duquette said: "We have a good thing going in Baltimore. I enjoy working with Buck [Showalter]."
The Blue Jays have yet to publicly comment about the report. The club has a policy of not releasing contract details of its employees, but it's believed that Beeston's deal expired at the end of the 2014 season.
There had been plenty of speculation that Beeston would step aside at the end of the year, but he poured cold water over that theory in October. Beeston appeared on a local Toronto radio station The Fan590 and seemed to be relatively adamant that he would remain in his current role.
Beeston spoke glowingly of his relationship with ownership group Rogers Communications and expressed an interest in continuing to work with general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
"I'm here as long as Rogers wants me here," Beeston said at the time. "I enjoy doing what I'm doing.
"We all know how these work in sports. If they don't want you here, they're going to tell you, and if you don't want to be here, you're going to leave. It's as simple as that. ... I have no intention at the present time of changing what I've got. But for [how] long, I have no idea."
Beeston is currently in his second stint as team president with the Blue Jays. He was named the club's first employee in 1976, and by 1989 he received a promotion to be president and CEO. Beeston eventually left the Blue Jays in 1997 to take a job in the Commissioner's office, but he returned in 2009.
When Beeston re-joined Toronto five years ago, it was initially on an interim basis. He was tasked with finding a full-time president, but after a year of searching, Beeston agreed to take the job. In one of his first major moves, Beeston dismissed general manager J.P. Ricciardi and replaced him with Anthopoulos.
Even if there's mutual interest between the Blue Jays and Duquette, an official agreement could prove challenging. Baltimore has Duquette signed through the 2018 season, and although Toronto's potential opening would technically be a promotion, he would need the Orioles' permission to leave.
That doesn't appear to be something Orioles owner Peter Angelos is willing to consider.
"We signed him," Angelos told the Baltimore Sun. "He has a commitment for four more years, and he has done quite a job for us. We are very pleased with his performance, and we expect him to satisfy his contract. We not only want him to, but we expect him to. ... We don't want him to go away, and we don't expect him to go away. And he's given no indication he wants to go away."
Toronto could be required to provide compensation if the organization is serious about poaching an employee from another organization. The Blue Jays initially balked at allowing former manager John Farrell to leave for Boston but later agreed to a trade. Similarly, the Cubs were required to compensate Boston when Theo Epstein decided to move to Chicago.
The Blue Jays also were linked to Twins general manager Terry Ryan on Sunday afternoon. According to a report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Toronto has interest in Ryan's services, but it's unclear whether the Blue Jays have asked for permission to talk to him.