When John Farrell  assumed the job of Blue Jays manager in 2010, there was a fairly well-defined vision of the direction of the franchise. The organization planned on building a foundation for success through its scouting and player development system and then, when that foundation had been built, flexing some financial muscle in North America’s fourth largest market and making a push for considerable goals.
That was the operating philosophy of the Jays while Farrell served in their dugout. There was an expectation that, at some point, Toronto would be aggressive in committing both the financial resources and prospects to go for it.
Even so, Farrell admitted that the decision by Toronto to make that push this offseason, coming off a 73-89 season, was not necessarily expected. But the Blue Jays have been the most aggressive team in the majors thus far this offseason, and on Monday, the team’s 12-player blockbuster with the Marlins — in which Toronto received shortstop Jose Reyes , starting pitchers Josh Johnson  and Mark Buehrle , utility man Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck  in exchange for seven players, shortstops Yunel Escobar  and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis, outfield prospect Jake Marisnick and pitching prospects Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani — became official.
The timing of Toronto’s willingness to take on players who are owed more than $150 million, which came less than a month after the Sox acquired him from the Jays, caught Farrell somewhat off guard.
“There was always, I think, an indication that there was going to be a point in time in the future that finances were going to be freed up to increase payroll. But to balance that out, there was such a high value placed on a number of young players coming through the system. To see it shift so quickly, that’s probably been the surprise,” said Farrell. “There was a number of good players that they gave up, from a baseball standpoint and setting aside the money that’s attached to those contracts, Toronto gave up a lot of good talent to get more established big league players.”
Farrell is aware that the reaction throughout New England to Toronto’s decisive moves has been an increased urgency among fans for the Sox to do something. The new Sox skipper noted that the emotional investment in the offseason merely underscores part of the appeal of his return to Boston, even as he noted that the best thing for his current club is to avoid reshaping its offseason based on the transactions of his former team.
“There’s passion in both [Toronto and Boston], but I think this is a more intense environment, which is an attraction in and of itself,” said Farrell. “But I think the more important thing is that we stick with a plan that’s been established and we go through that process to acquire players who are a fit for multiple reasons. I think there are times when forces speed up that play. But to react and be reactionary, that’s when you might do some things you didn’t set out to do initially and that can come back and haunt you a little bit.”