General manager turns down extension offer from club
By Gregor Chisholm
TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos, the architect behind the 2015 American League East Champions, has decided to leave the Blue Jays organization.
Anthopoulos' contract with the Blue Jays was set to expire on Saturday. Toronto officially announced the pending exit Friday morning and chairman Edward Rogers issued a press release stating that Anthopoulos turned down a five-year extension to remain with the club.
The news was a stunning development even though Anthopoulos' contract situation had created a lot of uncertainty over the past several months. In the end, Anthopoulos said leaving was a difficult decision but that the Blue Jays were no longer the best fit.
"I can't stress enough how well I was treated, how well I have been treated," Anthopoulos said. "Dignity, class, respect. Mark (Shapiro) was outstanding. A lot of people at Rogers I dealt with at the ownership level were outstanding.
"This decision is solely mine. Mark gave me every opportunity to return. He was sincere in wanting me back and I sincerely appreciate that as well. I had great discussions with him, great dialogue and I can say the same thing with ownership."
Anthopoulos' departure can be directly tied to the arrival of Shapiro, who is set to replace the retiring Paul Beeston as Toronto's president on Nov. 1. Shapiro was hired in late August and at the time there was speculation he would have full control over baseball operations.
The perceived power that Shapiro received put Anthopoulos' future with the Blue Jays into question. Anthopoulos previously had close to full autonomy over player personnel during Beeston's tenure with the club and that freedom seemed destined to change under Shapiro.
Anthopoulos was peppered with a countless number of questions about the specific reasons for his departure during a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon. Anthopoulos repeatedly sidestepped inquiries about the specifics of his departure.
"I had a desire to stay on," said Anthopoulos, who later added he does not have another job opportunity lined up. "Ultimately, I had a decision to make and I own this decision. This is my responsibility, it falls on me. I can't say enough about both Mark and Rogers, how they handled this process, the respect and the time and everything they gave me and afforded to me.
"I'm a pretty private guy and I just don't think specifics and things like that need to be discussed. I think the important thing to remember is I'm very grateful for everything I've had here, very grateful for the opportunity."
The only specifics that were publicly revealed Thursday came from Edward Rogers, who is the son of the late Ted Rogers and currently is the chairman of the Blue Jays.
"Alex has done a terrific job as GM of the Blue Jays over the past six seasons, and we would have loved it if he stayed with the club," Rogers said. "Like the fans, we too are disappointed he has chosen not to accept our five-year contract offer, but we wish him the very best.
"Alex leaves behind an outstanding front office team and coaching staff that played a key role in shaping the team's great run this season. They will continue to operate in leadership roles next year as we look to build upon the team's success. We remain committed to putting a winning team on the field and look forward to many more exciting seasons for the Blue Jays."
Anthopoulos began working for the Blue Jays in 2003 and officially took over for former GM J.P. Ricciardi at the end of the 2009 season. The Blue Jays had a 489-483 record during Anthopoulos' tenure but more than anything else he will be remembered for putting together the team that ended Toronto's postseason drought at 22 years.
There were some misses along the way and Anthopoulos will probably never live down the R.A. Dickey deal, who he acquired from the Mets for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud, but the positives far outweigh any negatives. His core remains in tact for next year, minus free agents Price and Estrada, which means the Blue Jays are set up well for the future as well.
"That's probably what made it so hard," Anthopoulos said of leaving a team that appears to be on the cusp of something special. "I'm young in my age, I'm getting older in my career but I just feel like you have to make decisions in life, to be true to yourself, which is important. You have to know what's important to you and what you value. I love the Blue Jays, that isn't going to change."