Ricciardi Gets a Three-Year Extension

Toronto Blue Jays General Manager and Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations J.P. Ricciardi has signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2010 season.

The announcement came in a news conference that took place just before noon Tuesday during the winter meetings at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel.

Ricciardi gets the three-year extension after his fourth season with the Blue Jays. The 46-year-old took the post in November of 2001 and the club had posted a 311-336 record under his direction.

The Blue Jays had a $76.8 million payroll under the first season Ricciardi's regime and posted a 78-84 record. In 2003 the club began shedding payroll for business purposes. After cutting $25 million in payroll for the 2003 season, the Blue Jays posted a 86-76 record, finishing in third place in the American League East. This past season, the club had the lowest payroll under the tenure of Ricciardi. The Jays finished just two games under .500 with a payroll of $45 million.

Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Godfrey announced the extension for his General Manager.

"J.P. gave me his plan during his initial interview during the 2001 season, and I bought into that plan immediately. It took us couple of years to dismantle the team, and then rebuilt the farm system and get the organization out of the hole."

"The one thing I learned was that you have to run a good business before you run a good baseball team" Ricciardi said.

Entering the 2006 season, the Blue Jays are debt free and are expected to increase their payroll by approximately $30 million. Last Monday the club announced they signed LHP B.J. Ryan to a five-year, $47 million contract. That deal marked the largest a relief pitcher has ever received.

Later this afternoon the club is expected to announce that they have signed RHP A.J. Burnett to a five-year, $55 million contract.

"Four years ago we tried to get rid of contracts" Ricciardi said. "After showing patience over the course of time, we are now able to spend money on the players we have targeted."

Ricciardi made sure to credit Godfrey for the patience he has shown and for allowing him to put his plan into motion effectively.

"He is Toronto" Ricciardi said referring to Godfrey. "He has been very honest and open with me the entire time. He has blessed up with his patience and that has allowed us to get things done."

"You can't change the direction of the battleship overnight," said Godfrey. "We knew it would take a period of years to get this done, and we're getting closer."

Ricciardi, has been involved in professional baseball for 26 years as a player, coach and executive. He began his career as a player in the New York Mets minor league system in 1980. He batted .189 with 26 RBI and eight stolen bases in 149 games over two seasons. Between 1982 and 1984, Ricciardi coached in the minor leagues for the New York Yankees, before spending the 1985 season coaching in the Milwaukee Brewers system.

In 1986, Ricciardi joined the Oakland A's, assuming the position of New England Area Scout, while also working as a minor league instructor. In 1992, he was appointed as the team's East Coast Scouting Supervisor, before being promoted again in 1994 to the role of National Cross Checker. Between 1996 and 1998, RICCIARDI worked alongside Sandy Alderson and, later, Billy Beane as a Special Assistant to the General Manager. He served as Oakland's Director of Player Personnel from 1999 through his departure to Toronto after the 2001 season.

"In a relatively short period of time, J.P. Ricciardi has positively reshaped all aspects of the Blue Jays Baseball Operations," said Godfrey. "Our major league club now appears set to contend with a talented core of exciting young players led by a hard-working and accomplished coaching staff."

The deal keeps the senior vice-president of baseball operations with the Jays through the 2010 season.

"I don't know if we've closed the gap," Ricciardi said Monday. "But I do think we're getting better."

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