After enduring a wretched season on the field, the Toronto Blue Jays made substantial changes to their front office Wednesday, resulting in the loss of perhaps as many as 23 jobs.
Among those affected who were connected directly to the baseball club included assistant athletic trainer Mike Frostad and head strength coach Chris Joyner, who were both informed that their services were no longer required.
The firing of Frostad and Joyner comes after the Blue Jays endured a horrific, injury-filled season in which the team lost more than 1,400 man-games to players on the disabled list, a franchise record.
The club's baseball media department was also hit hard on Wednesday with the firing of Mal Romanin, manager of baseball information; Erik Grosman, the co-ordinator of baseball information; and Sue Mallabon, co-ordinator of communications.
The well-respected trio had logged more than 50 years of combined service with the American League club.
Jay Stenhouse, the long-time vice-president of communications who was in charge of the baseball media department, survived the purge, but his position is changing. Heading into next season, the Blue Jays will be uniting their fan-engagement department with baseball media under the banner of communications.
Sebastian Gatica, who this past season was the vice-president of fan engagement after working closely as a media liaison with Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro, will head the new department as the vice-president of communications.
Stenhouse will report directly to Gatica while continuing to deal with the media.
April Whitzman, the manager of digital marketing with the fan-engagement department, was among those let go.
It was reported that 23 jobs would be lost, but the Blue Jays would not confirm the number.
The baseball club said the moves should not be construed as a cost-cutting measure.
"In recent years, our business has become more focused on engaging fans through compelling experiences, unique content and personalized service," the Blue Jays said in a statement. "[Wednesday's] changes reflect that evolving nature of our business as we shift to meet these needs through a new structure and resources aimed at delivering memorable experiences to our passionate fan base."
Just last week, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins expressed dissatisfaction with the overall organization of the club's medical department. He suggested the injuries were a primary reason the Blue Jays finished 76-86 and missed the playoffs for the first time in three years.
He cited the cases of pitcher Aaron Sanchez and second baseman Devon Travis – two players who battled injuries issues all season.
"Two young players and I feel like I let them down," Atkins said.
However, Atkins said, looking back, given the information available at the time, the team would not have managed their treatment differently.
"Having said that, there were times in the season that I was frustrated, our players were frustrated, because of the inefficiencies of our communication that happens in transitions," Atkins said. "So that's on me, that's where I've got to ensure that doesn't occur."
It has been an unsettling off-season for the Blue Jays, who last month notified Rich Miller he was being let go as the manager of the Vancouver Canadians, the short-season single-A affiliate of the big-league club. Miller had led the Canadians to the Northwest League title and was chosen the league's manager of the year.