What Does the Future Hold for Alex Anthopoulos?
After 22 years, the Toronto Blue Jays ended their long-standing playoff drought. They overcame all odds and were triumphant in the ALDS series. The Jays almost pushed the ALCS to a seventh and deciding game.
Overall, it was a very successful season for the Blue Jays. But when it comes to the status of General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, all of that might not matter. He may be out of a job by week’s end.
Today was a day of reflection for the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays as Alex Anthopoulos met with the media to discuss the successes and failures of the club.But the one thing everyone wanted to know related to Alex Anthopoulos and his status as General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to reports, his contract as GM expires later this week and the focus has now shifted to AA’s situation.
Bob Elliott referenced Steve Simmons’ piece from the weekend at The Sun, hinting that the reason why things are up in the air with Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays boils down to AA’s future responsibilities with the club.
Our Steve Simmons wrote on Sunday that the reason there is not a contract in place has nothing to do with a financial dispute. It’s all about job responsibilities.
There have been whispers that Shapiro wants to be more involved with the baseball operations side of the Blue Jays, which would inherently eat into some of Anthopoulos’ duties as GM. Jeff Blair alluded to this in his piece on Sportsnet.
So it stands to reason (Shapiro) might want to have some degree of say in baseball operations, as opposed to being purely preoccupied with the Rogers Centre and team governance.
The guess here is money and term is less of an issue in getting a deal done with Anthopoulos than is power-sharing and job security of other holdovers – including manager John Gibbons, perhaps.
That would certainly explain why things are in limbo with Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays. With Mark Shapiro officially taking over as club president on November 1st, he may begin to do things a little differently than Paul Beeston.
Alex Anthopoulos was Paul Beeston’s right-hand man during his tenure and the two had a very open working relationship. But now with a new president entering the fold, would Mark Shapiro keep Alex Anthopoulos on as Blue Jays GM?
Also, if Alex doesn’t feel comfortable with Mark coming over into his territory, that may warrant AA walking away from the Blue Jays and taking his services elsewhere.
To me, it’s not an ideal situation to have a General Manager walk away after helping take his club to the ALCS, but it’s the reality of baseball business. If Alex Anthopoulos can’t get what he wants with the Blue Jays, just as a free agent player … he is free to sign with another team.
It’s all a little bit odd; up until a few months ago, a contract extension for Alex Anthopoulos seemed like a slam dunk. With the team well on the way to making the playoffs and the state of the franchise in good standing, it almost seemed inevitable a deal would be done.
In fact, there were a few reports that a deal was already in place and the club was merely waiting to make the official announcement. But here we are mere days away from the end of Alex Anthopoulos’ official tenure and nothing has been said about his future with the Blue Jays.
After all that Alex Anthopoulos has done in the past six years, it would be a real shame to see his time with the organization end so abruptly. All this after one of the most successful years in Blue Jay’s history.
The team had finally come together as a cohesive unit and it sounds like the front office finally has a feel for the type of players which are a good fit for this club.
The business side of baseball can be relentless at times; often people lose their jobs simply because there needs to be a sacrificial lamb. This is not the case with Alex Anthopoulos; he helped make the Blue Jays relevant again and did something that the front office hadn’t in the past 22 years.
My gut feel is that Alex Anthopoulos is not back as the Blue Jays GM next year, which is a big departure from my inclination just a few months ago. Prior to the Mark Shapiro announcement, AA’s contract extension only seemed like a foregone conclusion.
But now with a new president in place with no preexisting working relationships with any of the front office staff, Mark Shapiro could clean house and start with a whole new front office staff next year.
Regardless of what happens at the top of the organization, the most important part is that many of the key players on this team will be back next year. Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna and many others were instrumental in the Jays’ success this year.
But one of the key cogs that helped bring them all together may not be; and that’s Alex Anthopoulos. The Blue Jays can move on without him, but it would be much easier if the architect that helped build it all stayed in place for at least a few more years.
Image via Cole Burston/Toronto Star
One thought on “What Does the Future Hold for Alex Anthopoulos?”
The Toronto sports scene has been filled with frustration, disappointment, and anger for decades, yet fans of all Toronto sports teams have immediately jumped on the bandwagon the instant their team seems like the real deal. It happened with the resurgence of the Leafs in the early 1990s, the Raptors last decade & last year, and now the Blue Jays during this season.
However, the fans have been trained to expect disappointment & failure, so their tolerance for delayed success is thin indeed. Unlike the situation with the Maple Leafs, where the ticket holders are like sheep that have continued to dutifully lead themselves to slaughter, the generations of new Blue Jays fans that flocked to the Rogers Centre will not be so patient. IMHO, just failing to re-sign Anthopoulos will push all the wrong buttons & lead to the return of cynicism & apathy, even with the nearly all the Jays' position players returning. This would mean far fewer new season ticket sales & below-capacity crowds right from the start.
On the other hand, re-signing the GM would reassure fans that Gibbons will also return, and send a message to the city that the ownership is looking for a winning product on the field, not just a profitable one. Fans will also sense that the Jays management will have the skills & reputation to be able to re-sign free agents, make intelligent trades, draft well, and generally possess the drive to do what it takes to get the team back to the ALCS in 2016. Not only will the fans see it that way, but the returning players, plus Price, Estrada, and free agents elsewhere will all see the writing on the wall too!
Shapiro had better put aside any ego, recognize that the fans (new & old) have no desire to wait for a new GM and manager to prove themselves, and resign Anthopoulos a.s.a.p.. Otherwise, the fan base will shrink as quickly as it grew during the second half of this season & the core faithful may balk at renewing season tickets, .
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