Mark Shapiro Named Successor to President Role
Featured photo credits: ESPN Cleveland
As announced early this morning, Cleveland Indians President Mark Shapiro will take over as the Blue Jays’ President and CEO following the completion of the season at hand, taking the reins from long-time President Paul Beeston. During Cleveland’s press conference, it was announced no compensation would be headed to the Indians from the Blue Jays. In various press releases today, Shapiro commented:
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. 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 and CEO] position warranted my consideration.
Toronto is a world-class city and sports mecca, with an exciting ball club that has support from Canadians all across the country. 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 honoured 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.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Rob Gillies of the AP, the Blue Jays plan to keep current General Manager (and folk hero) Alex Anthopoulos on in his current role following the completion of his contract after the season.
The move comes following a long-winded pursuit of Dan Duquette of the Baltimore Orioles in the offseason, headlined by rumours of a trade involving Duquette taking over as President and CEO with compensation of former Blue Jays top prospect Jeff Hoffman heading back to Baltimore. There were also rumors of a pursuit of Ken Williams of the White Sox, Dave Dombrowski formerly of the Detroit Tigers (having since signed with the Boston Red Sox), and a local rumor floated by prominent radio host Bob McCown that the Jays would pursue Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletic for the role as well.
Shapiro, 48, was hired by the Cleveland Indians in 1991. He was promoted from Player Development Director to assistant General Manager, and in 2001, was named the General Manager of the Indians. Promoted to President after 2010, his tenure was notable for the Bartolo Colon trade, in which he traded Colon during his prime as a flame-throwing ace for an absolute coup of prospects, headlined by Grady Sizemore (four seasons of more than 5 fWAR) and Cliff Lee (four seasons of more than 6 fWAR), along with Brandon Phillips who wasn’t notable in Cleveland but went on to provide a string of above average to elite seasons at the keystone in Cincinnati. Shapiro also traded half a year of C.C. Sabathia for a package including Michael Brantley, dealing Casey Blake for Carlos Santana, Victor Martinez for Justin Masterson, and Cliff Lee for a package including Carlos Carrasco. He should also be very well known to Blue Jays fans as the trade (or annihilation, if you prefer) involving Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles for Esmil Rogers was made during Shapiro’s tenure as President. On the business side of things, he oversaw a notable renovation of Progressive Field that was very well-received, which is appealing to a Blue Jays club with a stadium in need of natural grass and other potential renovations as well.
Shapiro’s notable poor moves were the signings of Michael Bourn (four years, $48 million) and Nick Swisher (four years, $56 million). Bourn, coming off of a 6.2 fWAR season with the Atlanta Braves (including a ridiculous 23.3 UZR mark), fell off a cliff upon arriving in Cleveland, posting fWAR marks of 1.7, 0.4, and -0.3 this year before being traded back to the Braves in a salary deal. His defense took a sharp decline in his 30’s as an Indian, immediately falling to negative marks by UZR, and much worse marks by DRS. Swisher was coming off of a 4.0 fWAR season with the Yankees, and was mildly productive with 2.1 fWAR in his first year with Cleveland. However, Swisher’s production collapsed following that, leading him to be dealt to the Braves along with Bourn, where he has experienced a brief resurgence with the bat.
Shapiro’s Indians (2001-2014, not including this year in its incomplete form) have won 49.3% of their games. They’ve peaked by winning 96 games in 2007, as well as 91 games in 2001, 93 in 2005, and 92 as recently as 2013. In both 2005 and 2007, Shapiro was named Executive of the Year by The Sporting News. They’ve bottomed out by winning just 65 games in 2009, as well as 68 in 2003, 69 in 2010, and 68 in 2012. The Indians have experienced the typical year-to-year variance of low-payroll clubs who are generally unable to afford to keep their best players and form a competitive core. In total, Shapiro’s teams have won 1120 games until this year, and paid a total of $993,762,934 in salary throughout that span of time. This comes out to just $887,288.33 spent per win.
A limitation on his ability to achieve success with Cleveland was his payroll. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, 2015 was the height of payroll on Shapiro’s opening day 25 man rosters in his tenure with all of $87 million or so. In 2011, that number was a shocking $49 million. In all, since he took over as GM in 2001 to this final year as President of the Indians, his average opening day payroll has been a comical $67,017,336. The following table provides context as to just how low Shapiro’s operating budget was.
Compare this to the figure of your current Toronto Blue Jays as per Spotrac, $135,995,399 – more than twice as much as the aforementioned average figure – and it’s tantalizing to imagine what Shapiro could build with a similar payroll figure considering his relative success on such a limited figure previously.