Toronto Blue Jays President And CEO Mark Shapiro Rewarded With Five-Year Contract Extension

Mark Shapiro’s “leadership and commitment to excellence” over the past five years was cited as the reason why the Blue Jays president and CEO was rewarded with another five-year contract extension.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Edward Rogers, who is the chairman of the ownership group, Rogers Communications.

No financial terms were released.

“Mark’s leadership and commitment to excellence over the last five years have been critical to the team’s growth and development,” Rogers said.

The Blue Jays returned to an expanded playoff format last season for the first time since 2016 following a 32-28 record during the pandemic-shortened season. The Blue Jays were swept over two games by the eventual AL champion Tampa Bay Rays.

Shapiro, 53, came to Toronto on Oct. 31, 2015 from the Indians, where he spent 15 years in Cleveland’s front office and earned a reputation of having a sharp baseball mind.

A month after Shapiro was formally introduced in 2015, Ross Atkins was hired as general manager to succeed the widely popular, Canadian-born Alex Anthopoulos in a move that did not go over well with the fan base.

Anthopoulos had turned down an extension and left the team reportedly because of philosophical differences with Shapiro, but Shapiro was blamed for running Anthopoulos out of town.

In Toronto, Shapiro inherited a club that had won the 2015 AL East title. Since then, he has led a tear down and complete rebuild of the team, which has left much of the fan base frustrated.

It hasn’t helped that the Blue Jays have been quiet this winter on the free-agent front, although they have reportedly targeted George Springer, D.J. LeMahieu and Trevor Bauer among others.

The only deal of any consequence was the re-signing of lefthander Robbie Ray to an $8 million, one-year deal.

Toronto’s efforts to rebuild around youth have focused on players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Danny Jansen and Nate Pearson.

The club enjoyed a successful 2016 campaign under Shapiro and Atkins, when Toronto earned a wild-card berth and a trip to the American League Championship Series. But the downturn began and the team bottomed out in 2019 with a 95-loss season.

The Blue Jays don’t know yet if they will be able to play their 2021 season at the Rogers Centre because of travel restrictions due to the pandemic. Last season, they played their home games in Florida.

Rewarding Shapiro for building up a young, talented roster is one thing. But Blue Jays fans will be more forgiving if Toronto becomes a contender during the next five years.

Shapiro came to Toronto with the goal of building up the farm system, and he’s done his job. According to MLB Pipeline, Toronto now has the seventh-best minor-league system in baseball.

Some top prospects in the pipeline include Austin Martin, Alejandro Kirk, Jordan Groshans and Simeon Woods Richardson.

But pressure will be building on Shapiro to supplement the prospects with some big-impact players who will help Toronto fans forget what the club lost in Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson.

As of now, baseball fans in Toronto would have preferred news of a major free-agent signing to hearing that Shapiro got a five-year extension.

Shapiro and Atkins will always be compared to Anthopoulos, who boldly landed Donaldson and key veteran pieces such as Marco Estrada and Russell Martin to make the Blue Jays contenders.

In five seasons with Shapiro at the helm, Toronto has an overall regular-season record of 337-371 (.476).

Shapiro didn’t sign a short-term extension. That tells you something.

A short-term extension might have been prudent given the uncertain state of the franchise over the past five years. But a longer-term deal shows just how much Shapiro has won over the ownership group.

But whether he can win more games and win over the Toronto fans remains to be seen.

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