Just over a year after his unceremonious departure from the Boston Red Sox, Ben Cherington has returned to the American League East, signing on with the Toronto Blue Jays as the vice president of baseball operations. It might sound more glamorous than the role he last held, but given that he’s reporting to general manager Ross Atkins, he’s basically an assistant GM.
So it’s basically a demotion, with Cherington apparently focusing on player development. But second-in-command might not be the worst place for Cherington to be. It’s where the Red Sox wanted him, certainly. He’s a guy who can provide some good outside-the-box ideas when the situation calls for it. He just needs someone around to...edit him, as it were. Really, he would’ve been a pretty great fit in Boston with the by-the-books Dave Dombrowski, but obviously that was a hard pill for Cherington to swallow at the time.
Now he’s back with Toronto, and the Red Sox probably shouldn’t be too happy about that. While some of his worst mistakes look as bad as ever—Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo say hello—the fact is that a huge part of this 2016 Red Sox team was built in 2015 with the likes of Rick Porcello and Hanley Ramirez, to say nothing of the young core that was brought up (and held onto) under Cherington. Oh, and 2013. That happened too.
Cherington can only do so much in his role to push the Blue Jays ahead in the East, and what he does do will usually take some time to shine through in the major league record given where his attention will be focused. But if Cherington is technically a Red Sox castoff, he’s one that the Sox would rather have had in their house than in Toronto’s, if not enough to keep him in the top position. They’ll just have to hope that he’s not enough to push the Jays over the top...if they’re not already there.