Beeston appointed new Jays CEO
Interim executive handed full-time job for three-year term
TORONTO -- The search ultimately ended where it began. On Tuesday, the Blue Jays announced that Paul Beeston would remain as the president and chief executive officer of the ballclub and Rogers Centre in a three-year deal, removing the interim tag he has held for the past year.
Beeston was initially appointed on an interim basis after the 2008 season when Paul Godfrey stepped down as the president of the Toronto franchise. Beeston began conducting a search for a permanent replacement, but team ownership indicated recently that it preferred for him to fill the role himself.
"While we interviewed a number of highly qualified individuals for the position, Paul's unique set of qualities made him our clear first choice," said Tony Viner, president and CEO of Rogers Media, the division of Rogers Communications Inc. that runs the Blue Jays.
"While Paul was initially appointed on an interim basis, he approached the role with his usual high energy and conviction to set the club up for success -- something he's now committed to do for the long term. We are thrilled that we were able to convince Paul Beeston to take on this role.
"Paul's background with the club, his credentials in the baseball world and his enthusiasm for this sport will be incredible assets."
When Beeston was hired last offseason, he insisted that it was only on the condition that it was a short-term situation. Reached by phone on Tuesday afternoon, Beeston said he meant what he said when he made those comments a year ago. Only recently, as the Blue Jays moved deeper into an integral offseason, did he begin to reconsider his status with the organization.
During the team's final series of the regular season in Baltimore, the Blue Jays replaced J.P. Ricciardi with new general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who has made sweeping changes to the team's scouting and player development departments in recent weeks. Throughout that process, ownership continued to ask Beeston if he would remain at the helm.
"I do think I represent the devil they know against the devil they don't know," Beeston said. "So, they kind of asked me -- these are people inside -- whether I'd consider staying or, 'Would you think about it? We've got a good thing going here and we're going to build this thing together. You've got to be a part of it.'
"The Rogers people, who I have a great deal of respect for and have enjoyed working with for the past year, had continual interest in keeping me. It kind of came together in the last couple weeks where I actually said, 'Why not?' I was very sincere before in what I said when I first came on."
It's a familiar role for Beeston, who was the first employee of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1976 and eventually was named the president and CEO of the team in 1991. Beeston held that role until leaving to become the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball in 1997 -- a job he held for six years.
Beeston said that he did not plan on remaining on as the president and CEO, noting that he talked to a host of potential replacements.
"We looked at some very good and qualified candidates," Beeston said. "Names I can't give you, because everybody that we talked to was gainfully employed. From that point of view, I don't think it's fair to say who they are. But, at the same time, it was sincere and it was serious. When it got right down to it, the Rogers people always came back with, 'Well, what about you?'
"I think the only reason was they were more comfortable with me. They knew what they had and what they didn't have in me. They knew my strengths and they knew my weaknesses. They knew my ability to communicate with them and make sure that they were getting information on a no-surprise basis."
Beeston said he plans on meeting with Anthopoulos soon to discuss information the general manager gathered while calling the Blue Jays' players and coaches individually over the past few weeks. After that meeting, Beeston and Anthopoulos intend on sitting down with ownership to present a plan and map out the payroll for the upcoming season and beyond.
Viner recently noted that team ownership is willing to increase Toronto's payroll if it makes sense, given that the organization is hungry for its first taste of the postseason since 1993. While that sounds as though the Blue Jays are not on the verge of a rebuilding phase, Beeston was quick to note that doling out lucrative contracts does not always equal a trip to the playoffs.
"That's the goal, but that may not be as quick as everybody thinks," Beeston said. "You just can't go out and spend money and get to the postseason. You have to go spend money wisely and you have to build wisely. I think that it's fair to say that, while we would like to be there sooner rather than later, we're not going to put a timeline on it.
"We've got to improve every year and we've got to be better every year and, as our goal -- not a carrot, but as our goal -- playing in October. The sooner we do that, the better chance we'll have of playing at the end of October."
Beeston confirmed that he sat down with Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay and his family last week for an informal dinner in Florida. Halladay's future is tied into the direction Toronto takes, considering he is a free agent next winter and could be dangled as trade bait during this offseason. Halladay's agent, Greg Landry, was also present, though Beeston downplayed the significance of the get-together.
"I told Doc at the end of the season, when I was down in Baltimore, that some time in October I'd take his family out to dinner," Beeston said. "That was all that it was. There was no purpose to it. It was just a matter of a commitment I made to him and it's fair to say that it was just a general meeting -- a 'How are you doing? How are you feeling?' and nothing more."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.