ARLINGTON, Texas – Jose Bautista gives John Farrell’s stewardship of the Toronto Blue Jays his seal of approval and the star right-fielder wants his manager to return for 2012.
One thing he won’t do, however, is lobby Farrell to stay.
"I don’t think we need to pitch ourselves to him," Bautista said after accepting the Hank Aaron Award as the top offensive player in the American League for a second straight season Monday night.
"When it comes down to it, he’s going to have to make a decision on his career, his family and where he feels comfortable. If that means him going to the Red Sox, we’re just going to have to find a new manager but I’m hopeful that doesn’t happen."
Farrell’s future with the Blue Jays was thrust into the spotlight over the weekend when the Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox have always viewed their former pitching coach as the heir apparent to Terry Francona, and were having internal discussions on whether to make a run at him.
Under Blue Jays policy, any employee is free to speak with and leave for other teams at any time without any compensation sought. As per another policy, GM Alex Anthopoulos declined comment on the matter.
Farrell broke his silence Monday morning in a brief email to sportsnet.ca, stating that: "I have no idea and no comment on what’s happening in Boston. I am focused right now on preparing for what is best for the Blue Jays in 2012."
While not the emphatic shutting of the door some may have wished for – the comment clearly leaves him with some wiggle room – it did offer some reaffirmation of his commitment to the Blue Jays.
A wider talking point is whether the Blue Jays should be offended that the Red Sox, who will unveil Ben Cherington as their new general manager Tuesday in the wake of Theo Epstein’s departure to Boston, may make a run at an employee with what’s believed to be two years remaining on his contract.
"I think the way to look at it is as a compliment," said Bautista. "If a team like that is interested in quote unquote taking him away from us, it should be a compliment that you have a good manager. Hopefully he’ll stay on board with us.
"It was a period of transition from Cito (Gaston) to him and now we feel comfortable with him and I feel he did a great job managing our team given all the difficulties of our season with injuries, trades, roster shuffles, some guys maybe not performing up to their capabilities. We still broke at .500, so moving forward, if we get the pitching consistency and the health we need I don’t see us being too far away from making the playoffs."
The Blue Jays finished 81-81 in their first season under Farrell, who is active in many facets of the organization, including player development, and is said to be happy both in his role and with Toronto. He’s predominantly been in Boston since the season ended tending to a family matter.
Farrell is not the only team employee to have drawn interest from elsewhere this off-season. Assistant general manager Tony LaCava remains in the running for the Baltimore Orioles’ GM vacancy.
Two weeks ago, Anthopoulos said in an interview that losing LaCava would "sting" because "we can’t replace him."
"I’d love to sit here and tell you that we can," he continued, "but it’s just too young a front office, too inexperienced, myself included, to replace what he brings because he’s the total package."
Already faced with losing LaCava, the sense of uncertainty with Farrell threatens to turn one of the Blue Jays’ prime assets this off-season, organizational stability, into a liability.