Jays amend employee policy to quell Farrell rumours

In a joint news release Tuesday, Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos stated the team would not grant permission for employees to make lateral moves.

Team no longer will grant permission for lateral moves to baseball operations employees

The name of Blue Jays manager John Farrell, left, came up recently in a Boston Globe story as the preferred candidate to replace fired Red Sox skipper Terry Francona. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Alex Anthopoulos had an upset stomach on Sunday that probably lingered for 24 hours once the Blue Jays general manager started receiving numerous emails and phone calls about a report in a Boston newspaper that suggested manager John Farrell was the preferred choice to fill the managerial vacancy with the Red Sox.

Until Tuesday, the possibility existed that Farrell —whom Toronto hired away from the Red Sox a year ago Tuesday — could entertain such an opportunity, given the Blue Jays' open-ended employee policy that allowed an employee to speak freely with other teams without any compensation sought.

But after the emails and phone calls to Anthopoulos, team president and CEO Paul Beeston and other staff became unmanageable, it was time to address the media on a conference call.

First, a joint news release from Anthopoulos and Beeston was issued Tuesday stating that, "due to the distraction caused by media speculation regarding our employee permission policy, the Toronto Blue Jays have amended their policy and will not grant permission for lateral moves."

In other words, Farrell will not be managing the Red Sox next season.

"We're not going to ignore the media. We have a responsibility to respond [to rumours]," Anthopoulos said on Tuesday's conference call with reporters, adding the Boston Globe story about Farrell had merit because of the set up of the Jays' previous employee policy.

"Knowing [the policy] is [now] a little more strict and a little more defined, I think it'll eliminate a lot of [those types of rumours] and certainly cut down on the amount of time we have to spend [addressing the media]."

No exceptions

Under the Jays' amended policy, employees in the baseball operations department will not be allowed to speak to teams about a lateral move, even if compensation is offered.

"If it's a lateral move we're not preventing anybody from improving themselves," Anthopoulos said, "and if it's a promotion, guys will certainly be allowed to talk."

Last week, Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava is said to have interviewed for the vacant GM's job with the Baltimore Orioles.

The Boston Globe recently reported that the Red Sox preferred Farrell as the team’s next manager after Terry Francona was told at the end of the regular season that the 2012 option in his contract would not be exercised.

Farrell beat out a long list of candidates to replace outgoing Toronto manager Cito Gaston following an exhaustive and secretive search that included interviews with 18 candidates.

Farrell pitched in 116 major league games, spending time with Cleveland, California and Detroit. He spent five years as assistant coach/pitching and recruiting co-ordinator at Oklahoma State University.

In 2001, Farrell returned to the Indians as director of player development until joining the Red Sox as pitching coach in 2007, a position he held until joining the Blue Jays.

Off-season meetings

With the new policy in place, Anthopoulos can turn his focus again to off-season meetings and planning.

"It's a race to try to get as much done as we can before the end of the World Series to be ready once free agency hits [five days later]," said the GM.

Lost in the Farrell-to-Red Sox rumours and the amended employee policy is Farrell's anniversary. The manager downplayed the Boston reports by saying he was focusing on what's best for the Jays in 2012.

With two years left on his contract, one of Farrell’s goals next season would be to halt the Blue Jays’ playoff drought at 19 seasons.

The 49-year-old New Jersey resident accomplished much in his first season at the helm, even though Toronto finished fourth in the American League East with an 81-81 record, a slight decrease from its 85-win total of 2010.

The players seem to have bought in to what Farrell is selling, namely a more focused approach to getting on base and a more aggressive attitude on the basepaths. He also communicated well with Anthopoulos and instilled a never-say-die approach.

Of Toronto's 41 home wins, 12 were via walkoff.

"John did a great job for the talent we ran out there for him," Anthopoulos told CBCSports.ca on Tuesday. "Finishing at .500, I thought, was a great accomplishment by him.

"I think he's going to continue to get better, continue to grow … and I think he's going to be one of the best managers in the game."