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Looking back on Anthopoulos' best moves

General manager decides not to extend contract with Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos' tenure in Toronto has come to an end, but the former general manager leaves behind a lasting legacy that will not be forgotten any time soon.

The Blue Jays announced Thursday morning that Anthopoulos declined to sign a five-year contract extension with the organization. Incoming president Mark Shapiro will at least temporarily assume control of all baseball operations until a full-time replacement can be found.

Anthopoulos' departure comes less than a week after the Blue Jays were eliminated by Kansas City in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. It was the first postseason appearance for the Blue Jays since 1993, and the vast majority of the core remains in place through at least next season.

Video: Anthopoulos discusses stepping down as Blue Jays GM

The success Anthopoulos achieved during his time with Toronto cannot be overlooked. Here's a look back at some of the top moments:

The 2015 offseason
Anthopoulos laid the groundwork for 2015's title run when he pulled off a series of big moves last offseason. First, he signed catcher Russell Martin to the largest free-agent contract in franchise history with a five-year deal valued at $82 million. Later, he acquired AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate Josh Donaldson in a stunning trade with the A's for Brett Lawrie and a series of prospects.

Video: Alex Anthopoulos discusses acquiring Josh Donaldson

Those two moves proved crucial is transforming the core of the team and extending the window of opportunity to contend. What went overlooked was the trade of Adam Lind for Marco Estrada, who helped save the Blue Jays' season with his contributions in the starting rotation.

The 2015 Trade Deadline
Toronto's team looked good on paper in the first half of 2015, but it wasn't until the non-waiver Trade Deadline that the organization really took off. The Blue Jays were 50-51 and eight games back in the AL East on July 28, but that didn't stop Anthopoulos from making a series of blockbuster moves to improve their chances of making the postseason.

Anthopoulos acquired star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, No. 1 starter David Price, outfielder Ben Revere and right-handed reliever Mark Lowe. The deals came at the cost of promising prospects such as Jeff Hoffman and Daniel Norris, but it also revitalized the franchise. The Blue Jays finished the year 43-18 en route to the division crown, while selling out all but one of their final 30 home games and receiving record ratings on television.

Video: Anthopoulos talks about acquiring Price from Tigers

The Bautista extension
It's easy to forget that there was a time when Anthopoulos received heavy criticism for his decision to sign Jose Bautista to a lucrative long-term extension. Bautista seemingly came out of nowhere in 2010 to hit 54 home runs with 124 RBIs, and there was no shortage of critics who felt he was going to be a one-year wonder.

Bautista was about to enter his final year of control when Anthopoulos made the controversial decision to sign him to a five-year contract worth $65 million, which also included a 2016 club option at $14 million. The All-Star outfielder almost immediately turned that contract into a bargain as he solidified himself as one of the most reliable and potent power bats in the game. If he hit the market even one year later, the cost would have been astronomical.

The Draft
Anthopoulos never shied away from making big moves but the infrastructure needs to be in place to make those possible. In recent seasons, Anthopoulos traded away a countless number of prospects to improve the active roster but it seemed that no matter how many young players got moved, there were more on the way.

The list of players taken by the Blue Jays during Anthopoulos' time is impressive. Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino formed what was once known as the "Lansing 3." Hoffman, Norris, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, Jake Marisnick and Anthony Alford were among those added through the Draft.

Travis d'Arnaud was acquired in the Roy Halladay trade, and Roberto Osuna, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Miguel Castro were signed as international free agents. Overall, despite the flurry of moves, the talent well never ran dry.

The reclamation projects
Every team needs some major contributions from unexpected players to achieve success, and the Blue Jays were no different. Edwin Encarnacion was once designated for assignment by the franchise, but Anthopoulos decided to bring him back prior to the 2011 season and he ultimately became one of the top power hitters in the game.

Video: [email protected]: Encarnacion belts grand slam for third homer

Chris Colabello was sent packing by the Twins during the offseason prior to 2015, and all it took was a waiver claim by Anthopoulos to bring him into the fold. Other surprise performers over the years included Alex Gonzalez, Steve Delabar and Carlos Villanueva.

The Wells trade
Anthopoulos proved that there's no such thing as an untradeable contract in baseball when he dealt outfielder Vernon Wells to the Angels prior to 2011. Toronto temporarily acquired catcher Mike Napoli in the deal but this was essentially a salary dump that many people did not think was possible.

At the time of the trade, Wells' skills were in decline, but he still had four years and $86 million remaining on his contract. The high cost was going to put serious limitations on the Blue Jays' payroll, but Anthopoulos created a lot of flexibility by shedding his contract to Los Angeles.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
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