Mike Chernoff to Become GM?
The Cleveland Indians are losing long-time front office man and current team president Mark Shapiro following this season will head to Toronto to take on a similar role there. Ever since this was announced, rumors have been circulating about who would replace him, but the Indians quickly came out and said that there’d be no front office shakeup and current General Manager Chris Antonetti would report to owner Paul Dolan directly, as opposed to going to Mark Shapiro. However, despite the Indians saying this rumors are still flying about a possible front office shake up, with the latest coming from Ken Rosenthal:
As Rosenthal stated, multiple teams have reportedly asked to interview Mike Chernoff but to this point he has seemed content staying with the Indians. He even turned down the opportunity to interview for the San Diego Padres GM opening last year. Why would a man in Chernoff’s position turn down opportunities for a promotion? The answer very likely is that he knows one is eventually coming in Cleveland.
Continuity is the Name of the Game
Following the 1991 season, John Hart took over as General Manager of the Cleveland Indians from Hank Peters. It was a move Hank Peters had planned as he set rebuild the Indians franchise in the late 1980s and turn them from the laughing stock of the league to an American League force. Since 1991 the Indians franchise has had only three general managers. Hart for the 1992-2001 seasons, Mark Shapiro for the 2002-2010 seasons, and Chris Antonetti from 2011 thru today. Each move was also carefully set up before it happened.
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As mentioned, Peters helped Hart along before he took over as GM. Likewise, Shapiro was Hart’s right-hand man the last years leading to his promotion, and Antonetti was Shapiro’s just before his promotion. The Antonetti situation is even more intriguing when talking about Chernoff as, like Chernoff, Antonetti turned down opportunities to possibly become a GM outside of Cleveland (most notably with the St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners). There were many that speculated Antonetti turned down opportunities to leave Cleveland because he knew he was going to succeed Shapiro in the near future. Whether there was an actual agreement or simply a professional understanding we don’t know but the Indians did announce in February of 2010 that Antonetti would in fact take over for Shapiro following the season, with Shapiro moving up to Team President.
This succession line is all but certain to be what prompted Rosenthal to speculate this is what could happen this winter in regards to Antonetti and Chernoff. I mean, it makes sense. The Indians are all about continuity and Chernoff, a man coveted by several teams, is turning down offers to remain an assistant. What other logical explanation could there be?
Don’t Expect a Move for 2016 Season
While I don’t think Rosenthal is wrong in his speculation, I do not believe that such promotions will happen this winter in Cleveland. I believe the Indians when they say Antonetti is remaining the GM and Paul Dolan will assume Mark Shapiro’s responsibilities. However, I do believe that we will see some shakeup in the near future. Perhaps we could even hear about the future plans as early as this winter. I would not be the least bit surprised if sometime in January or February the Cleveland Indians do announce that following the 2016 season Chernoff will become General Manager with Antonetti being bumped up to President.
Chernoff has GM written all over him and the Indians know this. They will do everything in their power to keep him in the organization, and given the fact that he’s actively turning down chances to leave, I think they’re doing something right and a promotion of some kind will in all likelihood happen. Question remains how soon and that’s one no one can quite answer yet though sooner rather than later seems reasonable, with the 2017 season a real possibility.