In news that has shocked the Toronto sports landscape, Toronto Blue Jays GM and Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Alex Anthopoulos has rejected a new deal from the ballclub and will leave at the end of his contract on October 31st.
Early media reports indicate that in the past couple of days, executives from team owners Rogers Communications presented a deal personally to Anthopoulos that may have been upwards for 5 years in length, but that Anthopoulos rejected the offer over control issues.
The Blue Jays have a new President in Mark Shapiro who takes over the team on November 1st. Many reports indicate he was hired on the premise he would have final say on moves the team makes. His initial hiring, of course, came at a time when the Blue Jays were near .500 and before the trade deadline moves Anthopoulos made that took the team to the American League Championship Series.
Anthopoulos is an expected contender for Executive of the Year after remaking a large portion of the team last offseason, highlighted by the trade that brought in third baseman Josh Donaldson. It was a makeover furthered by his trade deadline moves for Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere and others. Anthopoulos had put together a Blue Jays team that was an offensive juggernaut and made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years, all while staying within the team’s budget.
At his end of season press conference, Anthopoulos was clear that his contract was not part of the discussion of that presser, and that as his own representative (Anthopoulos doesn’t have an agent) it would be taken care of before it expired.
Anthopoulos was responsible for bringing back manager John Gibbons, whose contract gets an automatic 1-year extension as of January 1st. With a new President and now a new GM needed, speculation has led some to wonder whether he also will be back with the team.
All this has happened less than a week before an offseason starts where the team hopes to be able to retain top pitchers David Price and Marco Estrada, as well as possibly work on extensions for sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Those sluggers are on the final year of deals (after the team exercised their options) that will pay them $14 million and $10 million, respectively this season, well below their market value given their offensive output. Anthopoulos was responsible for both of those contracts.
Blue Jays fans hoping for his return are looking to recent history for some solace. Back in October 2005, then Boston GM Theo Epstein resigned from the team, only to be rehired in January the following year.
From early on in his time in Toronto, Anthopoulos wasn’t shy about blockbuster deals and had earned the local reputation as a the “Ninja GM” for being about to pull off deals without media leaks and often that seemed to benefit the team in great ways.
Anthopoulos’ early days with the Blue Jays were busy, with Ace starter Roy Halladay indicating he would not extend with the team, and would therefore be traded.
Anthopoulos Signature Deals:
- Dealt Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud.
- Sent Vernon Wells (more accurately, his $86 million over four years left on his deal) to the Los Angeles Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera (Napoli would be later dealt).
- Acquired Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio and cash from the Marlins for Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and four prospects.
- Traded for Cy Young winner RA Dickey from New York Mets in exchange for Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Wilmer Becrra and John Buck.
- Sent Brett Lawrie and prospects to the A’s for 2015 MVP candidate Josh Donaldson.
- Days before the 2015 trade deadline, received Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins from the Rockies for Jose Reyes, Jeff Hoffman, and Miguel Castro
- Acquired David Price at the 2015 trade deadline from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt