TORONTO -- During a period of transition, the Blue Jays opted for some consistency in their front office by promoting longtime assistant Tony LaCava to interim general manager on Monday afternoon.
LaCava -- at least temporarily -- takes over for Alex Anthopoulos, who declined to sign a five-year contract last week and instead decided to leave the organization. LaCava had been Anthopoulos' top assistant since 2009.
Toronto president and CEO Mark Shapiro made the announcement of LaCava's appointment during his introductory news conference on Monday. The timeline to find a full-time GM has yet to be established, but it will be Shapiro's top priority in his first weeks on the job.
"Tony is someone that I've known for over 15 years," Shapiro said. "Great baseball man. Tony's work contributed greatly to the team that is on the field right now, the team that had an incredible run this year. He's touched people throughout all parts of this organization and he has universal respect and admiration from those people."
LaCava's presence alongside assistant general manager Andrew Tinnish, director of pro scouting Perry Minasian and director of amateur scouting Brian Parker should help ease the transition to a new regime. That's crucial for an organization with decisions to make on team options and the start of free agency less than a week away.
There's a convenience factor to LaCava's temporary hire, but based on track record, he's also someone that should be a candidate for the full-time job. LaCava is a highly respected front-office executive with more than two decades of experience who has been considered for a number of vacant GM jobs over the years.
LaCava interviewed for openings with the Pirates and Dodgers in the past, and prior to 2013, he reportedly turned down an offer to become the GM in Baltimore. The 54-year-old has been with the Blue Jays' organization since 2002 as an assistant to former GM J.P. Ricciardi, and later as director of player development.
"I'm a Blue Jay, so whatever my seat on the bus is, that's fine," LaCava said. "I'm prepared to do whatever in the interim. I'm humbled that Mark's asked me to lead through this offseason. It's going to be a challenge, we have some issues coming up, but we're confident that we can get through them and put a great team out on the field again next year.
Shapiro and LaCava have crossed paths before. LaCava was a national crosschecker for the Indians in 2002, when Shapiro was their GM. Prior to that, LaCava worked for the Expos, and as a result, he was brought in as an advisor for a trade between the two teams.
LaCava provided some insight on Montreal's young prospects and a deal was later reached. Cleveland traded right-hander Bartolo Colon to Montreal for left-hander Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens. It's viewed as the best trade Shapiro made during his time as Indians GM.
That previous relationship might help LaCava's cause, but Shapiro won't say who his candidates are. In addition to LaCava, Shapiro's former colleagues in Cleveland -- vice president player personnel Ross Atkins and assistant general manager Derek Falvey -- would make a lot of sense.
"It's premature for me, and I think along the way I'm not going to comment on who the candidates are," Shapiro said when specifically asked about LaCava. "The things I said about Tony, I feel strongly about, those are from deep inside.
"But what's most important about that right now is his ability to lead in this interim period without interruption and with a driving focus on ensuring we can win next year."