Five years to the day of his big trade that brought Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and others to the Toronto Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos was named general manager of the Atlanta Braves on Monday.
Anthopoulos spent the past two seasons as vice-president of player development with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost the World Series to Houston recently. The 40-year-old, who was introduced at SunTrust Park before flying to Orlando for the general managers' meetings, signed a four-year contract.
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The Montreal native spent 12 years with the Blue Jays, serving as GM from 2009 through the 2015 season and building a team that made its first playoff appearance in 22 years in 2015 after a 93-win season. They made the post-season the following year, also under Anthopoulos.
In Atlanta, he will have final decision-making powers in baseball operations, answering only to Braves CEO Terry McGuirk.
Anthopoulos takes over from John Coppolella, who resigned in early October after it was learned he was the target of a Major League Baseball investigation into a violation of rules in the international player market.
At a news conference Monday, McGuirk apologized to fans for the scandal and promised change under Anthopoulos.
"Alex is a man of integrity and he will operate in a way that will make all of our Braves fans proud," he said.
McGuirk said he expects to learn of the consequences facing the club within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Anthopoulos said the investigation did not affect his interest in the role.
"Regardless of what the fallout was going to be or what the sanctions may be, that's not going to change who I'm going to go to war with day in and day out," he said.
Reports suggested Anthopoulos was the Braves' second choice behind Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, whom Royals owner David Glass never gave permission to interview with Atlanta. He beat out Dodgers senior VP of baseball ops Josh Byrnes and Jim Hendry, a special assistant to New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
Anthopoulos was also was named executive VP in control of baseball operations, so former president of baseball operations John Hart will move into a new role as a senior adviser.
Rejected Blue Jays' offer
The Braves GM position was viewed as attractive my many, mainly because the organization is considered to have one of the deeper bases of well-regarded prospects in the major leagues.
"The young talent here is as good as you're going to get in the game, and even here at the big league level, you have some exciting players as well," said Anthopoulos.
"The opportunity here, the upside, is through the roof."
Anthopoulos joined the Dodgers on Jan. 12, 2016, less than three months after rejecting a reported five-year contract extension with Toronto. He later resigned, some believe due to the presence of Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro, who went on to hire one of his former employees with the Cleveland Indians, Ross Atkins, as GM.
"This decision is solely mine," Anthopoulos told reporters at the time, adding the Blue Jays made every effort to bring him back. "I own this decision. This is on me 100 per cent."
A fan favourite, the forward-thinking Anthopoulos certainly didn't see all his moves pan out in Toronto. He dealt Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud, then the Blue Jays' top pitching and catching prospects, respectively, to the New York Mets for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who never regained his National League Cy Young Award form of 2012.
Syndergaard has been hyped as a future ace, particularly after the 25-year-old won 14 games for the Mets in 2016, striking out 218 over 183 2/3 innings.
But the right-hander spent much of last season on the disabled list with a partially torn right lat muscle. Located on either side of your back, lat muscles help your body to stabilize during the throwing motion while also providing power to the throw of the ball.
Anthopoulos also dealt the late Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2009 for what turned out to be an underwhelming haul in pitcher Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and d'Arnaud.
The GM, though, did improve the Blue Jays through the amateur draft, free agency and trades, most notably his acquisitions of third baseman Josh Donaldson, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. He also signed sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to contract extensions while also performing the improbable and finding a taker for outfielder Vernon Wells' seemingly unloadable contract in the Los Angeles Angels.