2015 will go down as a year of change for the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays. A new philosophy, a new era, a new team president, and now … a new General Manager.
Alex Anthopoulos has exited his post as General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a shocking move, but in many ways it wasn’t all that surprising.
There’s very little information to go on at this present moment, but here’s what we do know; ownership tabled a contract offer to Alex Anthopoulos and he said “no thanks”. And now the man who helped construct the Blue Jays’ historic turnaround is suddenly a free agent.
Nobody likes change. Up until this year, there were relatively no changes in the results for the Blue Jays for the past 22 years. Despite a number of front office executives and free agent signings and blockbuster trades, things stayed the same.
Then 2015 happened and everything changed from top to bottom.
Had the Blue Jays not made the playoffs this season, almost nobody is questioning Alex Anthopoulos’ exit. Here’s the issue at hand; the Blue Jays enjoyed their most successful season on the field in over 20 years and their General Manager is now gone.
The optics here aren’t great. They may not be as disastrous as the John Farrell/dream job fiasco from a few years back, but this isn’t a good look on the Blue Jays organization; letting the General Manager walk after the team made it all the way to Game 6 of the ALCS.
I think this is all much more complicated and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that most of us aren’t privy to. Considering how closely Alex Anthopoulos plays things close to the vest, we may never know.
Over the past six years, Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston had a very close working relationship as General Manager and president. But the moment Mark Shapiro was announced as the successor to Paul Beeston, the Blue Jays president/GM dynamic changed.
Things would never be the same again.
From a business perspective, I get it. A new president is announced midway through the season as the club flounders through the first half. Then the team unexpectedly explodes in the second half, but ownership still needed to honour that commitment to Mark Shapiro.
To leave his post as president with the Cleveland Indians, Mark Shapiro must have been promised additional duties in baseball operations with the Blue Jays. It wouldn’t make sense for Shapiro to make a sideways move from Cleveland to Toronto.
With that said, Shapiro will likely be much more involved in baseball operations than Paul Beeston ever was as president. If that’s the case, it would be encroaching on Alex Anthopoulos’ territory as Jays GM.
Alex worked very hard the past few years to develop an organizational philosophy and vision. At his end-of-season press conference, Alex Antopoulos spoke glowingly about the organization’s ability to discern which players fit the Blue Jays’ mould.
To me, that’s the most disappointing part of it all. It feels like the Blue Jays had just finally gotten to a place where they had a blueprint for the future. At long last, there was finally a “Blue Jay Way” once again. But with a new president and GM, that could all drastically change.
In retrospect, I wonder if Alex Anthopoulos knew all along that 2015 would be his final season as GM of the Blue Jays. And if 2015 was Alex Anthopoulos’ going-away party, he went out with a bang.
The way AA acted after the Blue Jays won the American League East – the way he celebrated just like the fans did maybe hinted this was would
be one of his last duties as Blue Jays GM – his moves were indicative of a man who had an inkling that this may be his last and he went for broke.
Anthopoulos had made blockbuster trades and signings in the past, but nothing to the magnitude that he did prior to and during the 2015 Blue Jays campaign. He acted like an executive that had free reign to do whatever he wanted.
For one reason or another, Alex felt like “this wasn’t a good for fit him”. After everything he’s done over the past six years and the success he enjoyed in 2015, Anthopoulos earned the right to step away without having to explain things any further.
Admittedly, this is a very strange scenario and there isn’t any precedent for this happening in baseball, let alone any other professional sport. Very rarely does a front office executive step down after having a season like the Blue Jays had.
After the season that the team had in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays earned a tonne of goodwill and proved a lot of the doubters wrong. The results themselves should’ve been enough to give Alex Anthopoulos free reign to continue his vision for this team.
But due to prior commitments, that vision may or may not come to fruition anymore. Starting in 2016, there will be an entirely new vision for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Image via Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star