Two days before baseball's free-agency period begins in earnest, the Orioles are still looking for a general manager.
They thought they were close Tuesday, when they made an offer to Toronto Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, a 50-year-old baseball lifer who is known for having a keen eye for talent.
But LaCava, who had interviewed twice in October with the club — including a sit-down with managing partner Peter Angelos on Monday — turned down the job, citing a desire to stay with a Blue Jays franchise that is considered by some as an up-and-comer.
"This was about the Toronto Blue Jays more than it is anything about the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were classy in everything they did, and I think they are going to go down the right path," LaCava told The Baltimore Sun. "For me, it was how much I love the Toronto Blue Jays and I really, really treasure my relationship with my general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, and I really want to see this through with him. He created a great atmosphere to work up there, along with president Paul Beeston, and it is very hard to leave them."
LaCava, who was a finalist in the past for GM jobs in Seattle and Pittsburgh, said he wasn't actively searching for a new opportunity this time around.
"When I decided to interview, it wasn't that I was looking to leave. But there are only 30 GM positions, and I was interested in it," he said. "When I weighed both at the end of the day, I just didn't feel I could leave the Blue Jays."
The Orioles job presumably would have been both a financial and status boost for LaCava, who has worked in scouting and development for several clubs since 1989. But he would have been joining an organization that has had 14 consecutive losing seasons and lags far behind its American League East counterparts.
At least one industry source said LaCava asked for — and received assurances — that he would have been able to hire more than a half-dozen new employees to fill various holes in scouting and development. But ultimately, the Pittsburgh native chose to stay in Toronto.
"I am working in a great place, a job that I love," LaCava said. "It's just as simple as that."
The Orioles are not commenting publicly on the search to replace Andy MacPhail, who stepped down in October after four-plus years as president of baseball operations. The Orioles have interviewed four men for the vacancy, including LaCava and Jerry Dipoto, who last week was hired as the Los Angeles Angels' GM. That leaves Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GM De Jon Watson and Orioles player-development director John Stockstill as the remaining candidates.
However, it is expected that the Orioles will go back to their original list and conduct a few more interviews. Potential candidates could include Chicago White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn, New York Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and Texas Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine, among others.
The Orioles, the only club without a top baseball executive, had hoped to have someone in place before the free-agency period begins Thursday, though the majority of free agents aren't typically signed until December.
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