Gibbons' status up in air with Anthopoulos' exit
Decision will have to be made on Toronto manager before Jan. 1
TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos has decided against returning to the Blue Jays in 2016, and what that means for his front office and coaching staff remains to be seen.
The Blue Jays announced Thursday morning that Anthopoulos declined to sign a five-year contract extension to remain with the organization. His last official day on the job is Saturday, and now the question is whether his departure will affect others in the organization as well.
Incoming Toronto president Mark Shapiro will be in charge of shaping the future direction of the club. Not only does he have to find a replacement for Anthopoulos, but decisions need to be made on front-office executives and manager John Gibbons.
"You guys know how I feel about John Gibbons," Anthopoulos said during a conference call with reporters. "I think he has done a tremendous job, but I just don't think it's my place to comment any further than that, other than how I feel about him."
Gibbons signed a rather unique contract with the Blue Jays when he was hired prior to the 2013 season. He originally received a two-year deal, but another season gets tacked annually if Gibbons is not relieved of his duties prior to Jan. 1. Gibbons currently has a guaranteed contract for next year, and 2017 will be added if he is still on board into the new year.
In addition to Gibbons' status, Toronto also will have to make decisions on its front office. Top assistant GM Tony LaCava recently interviewed for the GM opening with the Angels that ultimately went to Billy Eppler. Dana Brown, a special assistant to Anthopoulos, also recently interviewed for the Seattle GM job that went to Jerry Dipoto.
Before any firm decisions can be made about which personnel will return, Shapiro first has to hire Anthopoulos' replacement. Shapiro is expected to assume day-to-day responsibility over baseball operations for the immediate future, but his plans won't become known at least until he's officially introduced by Toronto next week.
In a rather unique twist of irony, Anthopoulos' departure came on the same day he was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year. The award was voted on by Anthopoulos' peers after he helped guide the organization to its first appearance in the postseason in more than two decades.
Anthopoulos helped transform the organization last offseason by signing Russell Martin and acquiring Josh Donaldson and Marco Estrada through trades. He then had one of the most successful non-waiver Trade Deadlines in league history by acquiring David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Revere, LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe for the playoff push.
In typical Anthopoulos fashion, he was quick to deflect any praise from the award and instead shifted the conversation to his staff that helped make it possible.
"I had just been told that before I jumped on this call," Anthopoulos said of the award. "I can say the fact that it comes from your peers means a ton. I'm very honored and grateful. It's a great award, and obviously it's a reflection on the staff, it's a reflection on the players.
"Everyone thinks these jobs are a one-man show, but you have so many people involved at so many levels. The players, everyone in the front-office staff -- this is their award as well. You can only have one GM, but you don't do it alone, and you have a lot of people involved."