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Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos explains how David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez influenced his decisions 11.23.12 at 1:28 pm ET
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Alex Anthopoulos suggested that there are contractual similarities between Manny Ramirez and Jose Reyes. (AP)

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos joined the Red Sox Hot Stove Show on Thursday night to discuss his extremely busy start to the offseason. He discussed the decision to pull the trigger on a blockbuster with the Marlins that netted Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes, the move to sign outfielder Melky Cabrera to a two-year, $16 million deal and the move to hire John Gibbons for a second-term as Toronto manager.

Interestingly, he cited a pair of Red Sox power hitters on multiple occasions during the interview while he explained some of the motivations that have guided Toronto’s ambitious decision-making this offseason.

Asked if he was concerned that Reyes will earn $66 million between 2015-17 over the last three years of his contract (with a $4 million buyout also looming on a $22 million option for 2018), Anthopoulos cited the eight-year, $160 million deal between Ramirez and the Red Sox from 2001-08 to explain his comfort level with the contract.

“The example I can use is that Manny Ramirez, for years everyone thought may have been overpaid when he was having [MVP-caliber] years for Boston at $20 million. Maybe he was worth [$16 million] at the time or [$14 million] or [$17 million], but Boston at the time would rather have the player than not have the player. I think that’s what it comes down to with us,” said Anthopoulos. “I think he’ll be 34 in the last year of the deal. There’s no question it’s obviously a higher salary. I think that’s part of what makes it available. But I think with the way the game is going and you project how things are going to move, I think revenues are clearly starting to climb. You look at some of the TV deals. … I do think the needle is starting to move on some of these players and where the contracts are going. And I do think our payroll is set up to handle that type of contract.

“That’s the only large contract that we have that’s for five years starting in 2013. We don’t have any seven- or eight-year deals. Might Jose Reyes at the time be worth $14 million or $18 million or $17 million? Absolutely. It certainly can happen. But there is a certain point in time where you’d rather have the player than not have the player. Because it’s a premium position player — shortstops are such a scarce commodity to begin with, then you add in the fact that he’s a leadoff hitter, by themselves a leadoff hitter is so hard to find. Then you bring in the component of stolen bases, contact ability, doesn’t strike out much. Does have, I think, actually pretty good power for a smaller guy. You look at the ballparks he’s been in with the Mets and Marlins and now coming over to our ballpark, I think the power will play up a little bit more. And probably more important than anything else, I think the energy that he brings will rub off on his teammates, and I think that [Emilio Bonifacio] is the same way. We really wanted to try to get more high-energy players on this roster.”

Ramirez again emerged, in concert with longtime lineup partner in crime David Ortiz, in discussing why the Blue Jays thought that the timing was right to pull the trigger on a considerable financial commitment to the roster by making the deal with the Marlins. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell on leaving Blue Jays: ‘I’ll be forever indebted to the Toronto Blue Jays’ 10.23.12 at 4:00 pm ET
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There are two sides to every story. With John Farrell, there are the people in Boston who are grateful to have him back where he helped build a pitching staff that dominated in the late 2000s and produced a World Series champion in 2007.

In Toronto, he is looked at as the man who left the Blue Jays at moment’s notice, never giving full allegiance to a franchise that gave him his first big league managerial experience.

Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and general manager Alex Anthopoulos agreed over the weekend to trade John Farrell and pitcher David Carpenter to the the Red Sox in exchange for Mike Aviles.

On Tuesday, during his introductory news conference as the 46th manager in Red Sox history, there were several reporters from Toronto who made the trip south to ask him how and why he left the Blue Jays after two non-winning seasons, which included an 89-loss campaign in 2012.

“It’s with a lot of thanks and great gratitude to the Toronto Blue Jays, to Paul, to Alex, the opportunity they provided in the two years spent there was invaluable experience. Things might not have always worked out the way we intended but there were a lot of firsts that I was able to experience there, and I’ll be forever be indebted to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I can honestly tell you it’s allowed me to be that much more prepared standing here than maybe [was] the case two years ago so for that, guys in Toronto, if you’re listening, I appreciate it very much.”

But that wasn’t good enough to appease the media from north of the border. Farrell was asked how he felt about leaving an organization and city that feels betrayed by his departure and suggestions that his heart was never in Toronto. Read the rest of this entry »

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Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos on John Farrell’s dream job; Mike Aviles; David Carpenter; and ‘unfortunate,’ ‘false’ leaks and ‘gamesmanship’ 10.21.12 at 5:34 pm ET
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Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos at the introduction of John Farrell as his manager on Oct. 25, 2010. (AP)

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, in a 40-minute conference call, discussed the conversations that led his organization to release John Farrell from the final season of his three-year contract as Toronto manager so that the former Red Sox pitching coach could return to Boston as a manager. He also discussed the appeal of Mike Aviles, the player whom the Jays received as compensation for Farrell’s departure; David Carpenter, the player whom the Jays sent to Boston to make the transaction official; and his concerns about the leaks — some of which Anthopoulos characterized as being flatly false — regarding the situation with Farrell and the Blue Jays throughout the process.

A summary:

  • After the season, Farrell informed Anthopoulos that managing the Red Sox represented a “dream job” that he’d like to pursue. Given that stance, once the Jays were contacted, they wanted to see if an agreement could be reached that would justify a decision by Toronto to let go of an employee who remained under contract in a lateral move.
  • Anthopoulos suggested that he understood Farrell’s motives, and that he wasn’t disappointed in his manager’s desire to leave. However, he did express disappointment with how the process unfolded — chiefly, with leaks that occurred about the process and what he termed “false” information and potential “gamesmanship” about Farrell’s relationship with the Jays front office. Anthopoulos noted that those leaks appeared to emanate from Boston.
  • The Jays never discussed an extension with Farrell to keep him in Toronto before 2013. Still, Anthopoulos said that the team fully intended to retain him as manager for 2013 if a sufficient deal with the Sox could not be struck.
  • Toronto acquired Mike Aviles from the Red Sox as a middle infielder with the ability to provide good defense around the infield, viewing hi as a high-energy player with power at a time when such players are rarely available on the market. The relatively poor middle infield options in the free-agent market underscore why Toronto valued a player like Aviles, despite his low on-base percentage.
  • While the Jays parted with right-hander David Carpenter to complete the deal, the team was almost inevitably going to lose him, since Toronto planned to remove him from the 40-man roster this offseason.
  • Anthopoulos said that speculation that Adam Lind might head to the Red Sox in the deal was completely false.
  • He also said that all members of the Blue Jays coaching staff are free to talk with any team, including the Red Sox, about job openings.

Here are some highlights from his conference call:

On whether the Jays ever discussed an extension with Farrell (whose three-year contract with Toronto ran through the 2013 season), and the timeline of events that led to the deal with the Sox:

“We did not [discuss an extension]. … [On either the Sunday or Monday after the end of the season] I spoke to John, starting going through offseason plans and so on, and that was the first time we talked about the Boston circumstances, the rumors and everything else. That was the first time we sat down all season even and addressed it and even spoke about it. John expressed to me that he’d really like an opportunity to pursue that if it came about. I explained to him that at that time, we hadn’t gotten any phone call at all, and that obviously we couldn’t hold up our offseason and even go down that path if we hadn’t gotten a phone call and we couldn’t wait forever. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot Stove: Is Blue Jays’ interest in David Ortiz limited? 11.01.11 at 2:20 pm ET
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It remains to be seen how aggressively the Blue Jays pursue DH David Ortiz. (AP)

While Toronto is one of the more interesting potential suitors of designated hitter David Ortiz, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos suggested that adding a DH is not high on his club’s offseason priority list.

“We still have the flexibility if the DH spot comes open or someone becomes available, to go down that path,” Anthopoulos told reporters. “I will say it’s very low on the priority list and we have a lot of other areas we’d rather address first.

“We do have the flexibility to get somebody else, if we want, in that DH spot.”

As things currently stand, the Jays have Edwin Encarnacion penciled in as their primary DH. The 28-year-old, whose $3.5 million option for 2012 was exercised by the Blue Jays on Monday, hit .272 with a .334 OBP, .453 slugging mark and .787 OPS along with 17 homers and 55 RBI in 134 games as a DH, first baseman and third baseman in 2011. Encarnacion’s numbers were very much in line with those of an average AL DH in 2011 (.266/.341/.430/.771). He is playing left field in winter ball in order to further increase his versatility.

Ortiz, meanwhile, was the most productive DH in the game last year, hitting .309 with a .398 OBP, .554 slugging mark and .953 OPS along with 29 homers and 96 RBI. However, the market for the slugger is expected to be limited this winter based on how few teams have openings at the position.

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In exchange for John Farrell, Blue Jays had agreed to leave Sox alone in Rule 5 Draft 03.19.11 at 1:35 pm ET
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According to this piece by Richard Griffin in the Toronto Star, the Blue Jays’ roundabout acquisition of one-time Sox prospect Cesar Cabral can be explained by a handshake agreement between Theo Epstein and Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos when the Blue Jays were interviewing for their managerial position.

With Anthopoulos seeking permission to speak to John Farrell (the eventual hire), DeMarlo Hale and Tim Bogar, Epstein gave his blessing on the condition that Anthopoulous not go after Boston players in the Rule 5 draft.

This is why, Griffen writes, when the Blue Jays wanted to get their hands on Cabral, a left-handed pitcher, they had to wait for the Rays to take him in the Rule 5 draft, and then put in a waiver claim him upon Tampa Bay waiving him. Cabral was returned to the Rays less than 48 hours later.

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Farrell suggests Blue Jays’ goal is to compete for World Series 10.25.10 at 4:07 pm ET
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Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, in his introduction as the Toronto Blue Jays manager on Monday afternoon, expressed his gratitude to the Sox for the opportunity they gave him to return to the field at the same time that he made clear his desire to compete with Boston. The man whom Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos heralded, “first and foremost, [a]s a leader,” suggested that he pursued the Blue Jays job because he identified a team with the resources — both in terms of talent and financial — to pursue championships.

“We have a common bond here. Going through this interview process, it became very clear, the direction this organization is heading, the resources that are available to support a club that is going to compete and compare with New York and Boston in time. Those were all selling points to me,” Farrell, who will wear No. 52 with Toronto, said at the press conference to introduce him as manager. “I come here and share the same vision that [Anthopoulos and team president Paul Beeston] do, and that’s to win a World Series.”

Farrell said the opportunity with the Blue Jays was clearly more compelling than previous ones he’d been presented with (whether interviews about managerial openings with the Indians, Mariners or Pirates, all of which he declined) in part because he had seen at some length the significant potential of a Blue Jays team that finished 2010 with an 85-77 record on the strength of a lineup that set a franchise record for home runs and a young, talent-laden rotation that features Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Shaun Marcum and Brett Cecil.

“I think it’s clear, no matter of whether it’s on the Red Sox side of the field or the other side of the field, what’s taking place here,” said Farrell. “It didn’t give the impression of a one-year wonder. You saw the youth, talent in the rotation. … The ultimate goal is to sustain this, not to say we did it one year, but to say we did it year over year.”

Farrell said that his experience pitching in Toronto in the early-1990s, when the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) was sold out nightly, made the idea of managing the Blue Jays even more appealing. He suggested that there was potential for Toronto, when it is ready to contend, to operate with the resources of a large-market team (Toronto, he noted, is the fourth largest market in North America) that can acquire free agents to complement the talented, largely homegrown core of the club.

Already, he views the team as having a number of components needed to make headway in the AL East.

“There is a lot of work to be done, yet [there are] strengths of this ballclub, which center around a young pitching staff, a very good starting core, an offense that set records with the home run ball,” said Farrell. “We also know that in this division, it’s extremely difficult to compete. … It’s an extremely challenging division.

“We can assemble a team to [compete]. We know that we have to earn the trust of our fans. That’s where coming back to the vision of winning a World Series is here,” said Farrell. “Working off the strengths of the individuals on this roster, we can achieve that.”

If the Blue Jays put themselves in position to compete for a championship, Farrell said that he received assurances that Toronto will be able to carry a payroll to support such ambitions.

“Tampa’s been able to do it on a much lower payroll. I think the most important thing is how efficient we are as an organization. … At the right time, there’s an ability to sign free agents to augment the roster that’s currently in place,” said Farrell. “We know we’re not going to be at the level of New York, per se. At the same time, there’s going to be the ability to compete.

“This is where conversations got very pointed with Alex,” Farrell added. “At the right time, there’s going to be an ability to support a very strong payroll.”

Farrell said that the goal of the Jays will be to rank in the top five of the American League in runs scored and runs prevented, suggesting that doing so bodes well for teams with World Series aspirations. He also said that the Jays will retain pitching coach Bruce Walton and third-base coach Brian Butterfield. (Butterfield was one of the other finalists for the managerial vacancy.)

The 48-year-old Blue Jays manager took time to thank the Red Sox — starting with manager Terry Francona for the opportunity he had in Boston. He praised Francona’s managerial style, in which he “never wavered” in support of his players, leading to a clubhouse atmosphere where members of the roster “wanted to run through a wall for him.”

“Tito, the last four years standing beside you have been a tremendous learning experience,” said Farrell. “The opportunity that you and [the Red Sox front office] afforded me in Boston is really what allowed me to make this progression to come here today.”

Anthopoulos said that ultimately, while it represented a plus that Farrell was experienced with the AL East and while some might view it as a drawback that he had an on-field background solely with pitchers (first as a big league pitcher, then as a pitching coach), ultimately, neither of those elements was important in the selection of Farrell.

“It was irrelevant to me what position he played, because he showed all of the other criteria that were important. … [Knowledge of the division] was part of it, but the person was more important than anything else,” said the Toronto GM. “It came down to the person and the things we were going to value.”

Just as was the case for the Sox when they tabbed Farrell as a pitching coach, and when they did everything in their power to retain him when other teams asked to interview him about managerial vacancies, the Blue Jays reached the conclusion that they had found their man. And Farrell, for his part, believes that he has found the right organization in which to cut his managerial teeth.

“I’m anxious to get started,” Farrell said. “I’m anxious to grab this situation wholeheartedly.”

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