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11/01/11 9:44 PM ET

Citing love for Toronto, LaCava spurns Orioles

Veteran personnel evaluator was offered GM role on Tuesday

BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke on Tuesday about how difficult it would be to lose assistant GM Tony LaCava, a highly regarded baseball executive who was the Baltimore Orioles' top choice for their president/GM vacancy. But Anthopoulos no longer has to worry.

A day after meeting with the Orioles' top decision-makers -- including principal owner Peter Angelos -- LaCava turned down Baltimore's offer to become GM and will instead remain in Toronto for the 2012 season. The news comes as a surprise, given how far along in the process LaCava was -- he had a lengthy first interview on Oct. 19 -- and leaves the Orioles sans GM with free agency set to open on Thursday.

"They were more than fair," LaCava said of the Orioles' offer in a phone interview Tuesday night. "And it's a great opportunity. It just came down to this, and I know it's hard for people to believe: I truly love what I do in Toronto, and I wasn't looking to leave. But when there's only 30 GM jobs, and you have a chance to explore them, you do it. That was the way I looked at it."

LaCava, who was officially offered the job Tuesday, said the Orioles' offer was on par financially with what a traditional GM job would warrant, and he refuted rumors that he wasn't going to be allowed the freedom to make certain personnel moves and reshape the organization's infrastructure.

"Truly, it wasn't like that at all," said LaCava. "When they called for permission, I wasn't actively looking to leave the Blue Jays. I have a great dynamic with the general manager, he's a dear friend. I have a desire to see things through with him.

I wanted to explore [the Orioles' job]. You need to at least look at it, but I always knew in my heart that I was going to be weighing it with Toronto."

It's unknown what the next step will be for the Orioles, who could expand their candidate pool and conduct more interviews, or offer the position to either of the two remaining candidates: Dodgers assistant GM DeJon Watson or Baltimore's director of player development John Stockstill. As of late Tuesday night, the organization has not asked for permission from Texas to interview any potential candidates, such as the heavily rumored Thad Levine.

Watson, who has met with the Orioles several times as well according to Yahoo! Sports, remains in play, while Stockstill is seen as more of a wild card, particularly given the organization's struggles in scouting and player development. Watson also interviewed for the Arizona Diamondbacks' GM job last year, which eventually went to Kevin Towers. He just completed his fifth season in charge of the Dodgers' Minor League system, which was named the best in baseball in 2010 by Topps. Watson joined the Dodgers from Cleveland, where he was scouting director, and he was also the scouting director for Cincinnati.

LaCava, 50, is regarded as one of baseball's most savvy talent evaluators and served as a scout for the Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos and Cleveland Indians before joining the Blue Jays. He was moved up from assistant to the GM to assistant GM in October 2007, and he assumed the duties of director of player development in '09. The Orioles' job was the third GM position for which LaCava has interviewed -- he also interviewed in Pittsburgh and Seattle -- but this is the first he has turned down an offer.

"I just felt like I couldn't leave the Blue Jays, and its nothing against the Orioles," LaCava said. "[The whole interview process] was good. The baseball conversations were good. The vision and commitment is there by ownership, so hopefully, it's going to be a real good fit for somebody and I'm sure they'll make a great hire."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.