If there’s one former Blue Jays baseball executive who draws the most interest, admiration and curiosity, it’s Alex Anthopoulos. His tenure as General Manager in Toronto was one of the most interesting times in franchise history.
He helped orchestrate some of the most revered and ridiculed transactions by the Blue Jays. From the Josh Donaldson trade, giving up Noah Syndergaard as part of a package to get R.A. Dickey, to miraculously shedding the Vernon Wells contract.
He wasn’t always forthcoming during his days as Blue Jays General Manager, but he joined Mark Feinsand on the latest episode of MLB’s Executive Access Podcast and revealed a lot of interesting information.
They touched on everything from the aforementioned Donaldson and Wells trades, to courting Russell Martin, to watching Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion develop into superstars, to the Blue Jays’ monster 2012 offseason and the whirlwind 2015 trade deadline.
The Blue Jays portion of the podcast starts around the 12:24 mark and continues until the 39-minute mark.
Alex Anthopoulos on Executive Access Podcast
Anthopoulos on taking Edwin Encarnacion’s contract back in the trade with the Reds for Scott Rolen:
We traded Scott Rolen, we did not want Edwin Encarnacion back in the deal. It was part of the way to offset salary. The real haul in the deal was Zach Stewart.
The Vernon Wells trade, which evidently opened up payroll for the Blue Jays to re-sign Jose Bautista:
If we don’t move Vernon Wells, I can’t tell you Jose Bautista stays in Toronto or that we’re able to afford signing him to that deal.
Looking back on his regrets about the blockbuster trades with the Marlins and the Mets from the 2012 offseason:
In hindsight, we moved too fast. I think from a brand standpoint, what it did for the city, the country, attendance, all those things, it moved the needle tremendously. From a baseball standpoint, we weren’t ready to take that jump.
How Anthopoulos says he’s changed as a General Manager:
I was so caught up in tools and talent and ability early on, that I wasn’t as preoccupied with putting a team together. When I say “team”, I really highlight the word “team” and how the pieces fit and what you want to be about.
On courting Russell Martin during the 2014 offseason:
He was the number one target we had to have. We used the Canadian angle. I drove to Montreal about five times to go back and forth to see him.
I think I remember telling him “we’re going to sign you. I don’t care – you’re going to meet with the Cubs and the Dodgers and all that, but just know that we’re going to sign you. There’s just no option.
It’s a great listen from start to finish, but Anthopoulos really opens up and is candid about his time in Toronto. Although, we never did get an answer about whether the Blue Jays put in a bid for Yu Darvish back in 2011.