Godfrey steps down as Jays president
The Paul Godfrey era is over.
Godfrey stepped down as Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO on Monday, bringing to an end months of speculation over his future with the team.
The resignation takes effect at the end of the calendar year. No replacement was named.
Godfrey has served as president and CEO of the Blue Jays since Sept. 1, 2000, when Rogers Communications purchased the baseball club.
Godfrey, 69, revealed he indicated that he might not return for another season to the team's ownership earlier this year.
"There's never a right time to do this sort of thing," Godfrey said. "I do these things by what my gut tells me to do."
Godfrey's resignation comes one day after the Blue Jays closed out the season with a 10-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Toronto finished the campaign with an 86-76 record and fourth place in the American League East, marking the 15th consecutive season the club failed to qualify for the post-season. The Jays last made the playoffs in 1993, when they won the second of their back-to-back World Series titles.
Godfrey came under fire as the Jays struggled on the field early in the 2008 season. Manager John Gibbons was fired June 20 and replaced by former manager Cito Gaston, who later earned a two-year contract extension. General manager J.P. Ricciardi, also facing heat and under contract through 2010, earned a reprieve.
One of Godfrey's first acts as president was to approve the funds for then GM Gord Ash to re-sign first baseman Carlos Delgado to a $68-million US, four-year contract. The Blue Jays had a payroll of roughly $77 million US in 2001, their first full season under the Godfrey regime.
Ash was fired Oct. 1, and Ricciardi was hired the following month, brought in by Godfrey to cut the payroll while at the same time to build a team on a shoestring budget that could compete in the AL East.
The team's financial losses slowly decreased annually, which helped Rogers Communications purchase the Rogers Centre in 2005 for the paltry sum of $25 million in 2005. The former SkyDome was built at a cost of $600 million.
The purchase of the SkyDome gave the team control over all stadium revenues, and it allowed Godfrey to commit an additional $210 million US in player payroll for the 2006-08 seasons.
With the new money in hand, Ricciardi went on a spending spree, signing free-agent pitchers A.J. Burnett ($55 million US, five years) and B.J. Ryan ($47 million US, five years) and catcher Bengie Molina ($5 million US, one year).
The team's payroll was eventually pushed above the $100-million US plateau , but no playoff berths were forthcoming.