Indians Rumors: What does Mark Shapiro’s potential departure mean for Cleveland?

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The one constant in the Tribe front office since 1991 has been team president Mark Shapiro.

But it looks like that might change.

Nothing has been confirmed and Shapiro himself declined comment to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Still, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Shapiro is getting significant interest from the Blue Jays to replace outgoing president/CEO Paul Beeston.

The Jays are looking to replace Beeston, who will retire at the end of the season, and reportedly spoke to the Orioles’ Dan Duquette and White Sox’s Ken Williams in December. Shapiro, too, was linked to the job over the winter and acknowledged “nothing is forever.” More recently, Rosenthal writes, Toronto has interviewed newly anointed Red Sox brass Dave Dombrowski.

Rosenthal believes Shapiro would garner significant interest from the Jays not only because of his baseball acumen, but also his experience upgrading Progressive Field over the last two years. Toronto’s Rogers Centre is due for renovations at some point over the next few seasons.

While the idea of heading north to Canada may not seem particularly appealing, there will almost certainly be a laundry list of interested parties. The Jays began the season with a $121.8 million payroll (10th in the majors) and have since added to it – trading for superstars David Price and Troy Tulowitzki at the deadline.

Cleveland, on the other hand, entered the season with an $88 million payroll (23rd in the majors) and have since shed salary as they fall further out of playoff contention.

While fans may be somewhat relieved to rid Shapiro from the front office (for whatever reasons), the most impactful part of this situation is that manager Terry Francona has language in his contract that allows him to opt out if Shapiro or general manager Chris Antonetti decide to leave the Tribe.

Francona’s relationship with Antonetti – and his current players – would likely preclude the Tribe skipper from packing his bags. Shapiro’s absence likely wouldn’t be missed by fans, but the Indians cannot afford to lose a top-5 manager from their youthful dugout. Not to mention, how does Shapiro’s departure impact Antonetti and — by proxy — the young, talented team the two have assembled? There are a lot of unknowns.

No matter your feeling on Shapiro, though, this is a situation that could create significant ripples throughout the organization entering next season.

Good or bad remains to be seen.

What do you think, Tribe fans?

Next: Could Chisenhall be another Alex Gordon?

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