The Blue Jays have fired hitting coach Brook Jacoby and first-base coach Tim Leiper, according to a report from John Lott of The Athletic, later confirmed by GM Ross Atkins. Both coaches had a year remaining on three-year contracts signed prior to the 2017 season.
The firings are the first in what could be wholesale changes for the staff under new manager Charlie Montoyo, per the report. Montoyo, formerly the bench coach in Tampa, has deemed the assembly of a quality staff “very important” as he enters his first season as manager in the bigs.
Jacoby, 58, had manned the post since the start of the 2015 season. Prior to his tenure with Toronto, the 12-year big league veteran held the same position in Cincinnati for seven seasons.
His dismissal is a bit of a surprise for a Toronto team that received encouraging 2018 production from several first-year players in the wake of serious injuries to Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki. Rookies Billy McKinney, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, Rowdy Tellez, and Dwight Smith Jr. all performed at an above-league-average rate this season, albeit in limited samples, and reclamation projects Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk, stalled Cardinals both, again flashed the ability that had catapulted each to regular status in St. Louis. As a team, the Blue Jays’ 101 wRC+ tied for 8th in the major leagues, a marked improvement over last year’s paltry output. Still, it’s a lineup that, under Jacoby’s watch, failed to produce a single breakout star, and witnessed the rapid diminishment of once-promising second baseman Devon Travis, plus the total collapse of former regular Yangervis Solarte.
Leiper, 52, was a longtime manager in the minor leagues before being appointed to John Gibbons’ staff prior to the 2014 season.