Updated w. LaCava quotes
Earlier on Tuesday, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos talked about how difficult it would be to lose assistant GM Tony LaCava, a widely regarded baseball executive who was the Baltimore Orioles’ top choice for their president/GM vacancy. But Anthopoulos no longer has to worry.
A day after meeting with the Orioles’ top decision makers — including principal owner Peter Angelos — LaCava turned down Baltimore’s offer to become GM and will instead remain in Toronto for the 2012 season. The news comes as a surprise, given how far along in the process LaCava was — he had a lengthy first interview on Oct. 19 — and leaves the Orioles sans a GM with free agency set to open on Thursday.
“They were more than fair,” LaCava said in a phone interview Tuesday night in regards to the Orioles offer. “And it’s a great opportunity it just came down to this, and I know it’s hard for people to believe it, that I truly love what I do in Toronto. And I wasn’t looking to leave. But when there’s only 30 GM jobs, when you have a chance to explore them you do it. That was the way I looked at it.”
LaCava said the Orioles offer was on par financially with what a traditional GM job would warrant and refuted the rumors that he wasn’t going to be allowed the freedom to make certain personnel moves and reshape the organization’s infrastructure.
“Truly, it wasn’t like that at all,” said LaCava, who met with the Orioles’ brass on Monday and was officially offered the job on Tuesday. “It really just comes down to, when they called for permission I wasn’t actively looking to leave the Blue Jays, I have a great dynamic with the general manager, he’s a dear friend. I have a desire to see things through with him.
I wanted to explore [the Orioles job]. You need to at least look at it, but I always knew in my heart that I was going to be weighing it with Toronto.”
It’s unknown what the next step will be for the Orioles, who could expand their candidate pool and conduct more interviews, or offer the position to either of the two remaining candidates: Dodgers assistant GM DeJon Watson or Baltimore’s director of player development John Stockstill. As of late Tuesday night, the organization has not asked for permission from Texas to interview any potential candidates, such as the heavily rumored Thad Levine.
Watson, who met with the Orioles several times as well, according to Yahoo! Sports, remains in play, while Stockstill is seen as more of a wild card, particularly given the organization’s struggles in scouting and player development. Watson, who interviewed for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ GM job last year that went to Kevin Towers, just completed his fifth season in charge of the Dodgers’ Minor League system, which was named the best in baseball in 2010 by Topps. Watson joined the Dodgers from Cleveland, where he was scouting director, and he also was scouting director for Cincinnati.
LaCava, 50, is regarded as one of baseball’s most savvy talent evaluators and served as a scout for the Angels, Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos and Cleveland Indians before joining Toronto’s organization. He was moved up from assistant to the GM to assistant GM in October 2007 and the duties of director of player development were added in ’09. The Orioles job was the third GM position LaCava has interviewed for — the other two GM jobs openings were in Pittsburgh and Seattle — but this is the first he has turned down an offer.
“I just felt like I couldn’t leave the Blue Jays, and its nothing against the Orioles,” LaCava said. “I know there are some fans out there that don’t want to believe that, but it is the truth.
[The whole interview process] was good. The baseball conversations were good. The vision and commitment is there by ownership, so hopefully it’s going to be a real good fit for somebody and im sure they’ll make a great hire.”