Manager John Gibbons will not return to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019, ending his second run with the club.
The Blue Jays made the long-expected announcement on Wednesday, ahead of Toronto’s final home game of the season against the Houston Astros.
Gibbons’s job security was in question earlier this summer as rumours circulated that the club was contemplating making a managerial change. But the Jays announced in August that Gibbons would finish the season, which concludes Sunday after a three-game series in Tampa against the Rays.
In early 2017, Gibbons was rewarded for back-to-back playoff appearances with a contract extension through 2019 with a club option for 2020. But the Blue Jays missed the playoffs last year and played below expectations again this season.
The Jays went into rebuilding mode this year after the club fell out of playoff contention early in the season, leading to trades of key players like Josh Donaldson and J.A. Happ.
Gibbons is in second place on the team’s all-time list for managerial victories with 791. Cito Gaston is the all-time leader with 892 wins.
The 56-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, also managed the team from August 2004 to June 2008. He was rehired in November 2012.
Gibbons guided the Blue Jays to a disappointing 74-88 record in 2013 but the Blue Jays improved to 83-79 the following year. A flurry of moves at the 2015 trade deadline by then-GM Alex Anthopoulos helped reignite the fanbase and the team soared in the second half en route to ending a 22-year playoff drought.
A 93-69 mark in 2015 gave the Blue Jays the American League East division crown. Toronto beat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS before losing the AL Championship Series in six games to the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
Bolstered by AL MVP Donaldson and sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays led the league in runs scored (891), home runs (232), RBIs (852), walks (570) and on-base plus slugging (.797).
Most of the offensive weapons returned for 2016 and the team’s 89-73 mark was good enough for a return to the post-season. Toronto beat the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card game and took Texas down again before falling to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
The Blue Jays struggled in 2017 and were essentially out of the playoff mix by mid-season in 2018.
Gibbons first joined the Blue Jays’ coaching staff in 2002 as a bullpen catcher. He was promoted mid-season to first base coach and served in that capacity until replacing manager Carlos Tosca.
Gibbons spent parts of three seasons as a catcher with the New York Mets after being drafted by the team in 1980.
He later worked as a coach and manager for a number of teams at a variety of minor-league levels.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press