Anthopoulos talks managerial search
Alex Anthopoulos is in the middle of what can only be described as his most important offseason to date as Toronto’s general manager. He’s in the market for a pair of starting pitchers while also searching for potential upgrades in left field and at second base.
If that wasn’t enough, Anthopoulos also faces the unenviable task of having to conduct his second managerial search in just over two years. The speed — or lack thereof — of the current search has led to some criticism about a perceived lack of urgency with free agency already well underway.
Here’s a mostly complete transcript of what Anthopoulos had to say about that and other important offseason topics during a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. You can find my article from this interview on the main site.
Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB where I’ll be posting breaking news on the Blue Jays’ offseason moves.
Where do things currently stand in your search for a new manager? Do you have a timeline and will the search be temporarily put on hold because of this week’s GM meetings in California?
“It will slow down for two or three days but hopefully sooner than later. I don’t have a specific timeline but we’re making progress, moving in the right direction, moving along. Sooner than later but for two or three days while we’re at the meetings it slows up. But it will pick right back when the meetings are over.”
There has been a lot of talk about how not having a manager in place could impact negotiations with free agents. Has this been mentioned in conversations or do you think it’s somewhat overrated in the public eye?
“It has come up in conversations, which is to be expected. I haven’t really seen it so far be an issue. I think a lot of it will get resolved before some of the big free agents sign. I’ve yet to see be a problem.”
You’ve been quoted as saying this search is about finding the right fit for Toronto. What are some of the qualities in a manager that you’re looking for this time around?
‘It’s finding the right fit for the city, for the players, for management. You could take the top five managers in the game and they might not be the right fit. It’s not a player, you’re not filling in first base or an outfield position. There’s more than just checking off boxes in terms of what makes a good manager.
“I think it’s much more specific for what fits with the organization, the players, the community. It’s hard to quantify it that way but I think it’s more specific to the organization and the city than anything else, management, community and the players.”
Having been through this process once before, how do you weigh what experienced guys have done before versus what rookie candidates say they’ll do in an interview setting?
“You can find out tangible things from coaches they worked with, players they managed, you have a much better feel how guys are going to run a bullpen. You take out a lot of the guess work involved and they’re much more of a known quantity, the guys who have done it before, and there’s definitely a comfort in that.
“That’s not to say that those are the best candidates, but there is definitely a comfort when you don’t have to guess as much because ultimately you’re not sure how someone’s going to react.”
What can you tell us about Esmil Rogers? What did you like about Rogers and how long were you interested in him?
‘We had talked to the Indians about him a little bit during the summer and then in the offseason we started to talk a lot more. We always look to add any arms that we can, bullpen, starters. It’s a power arm guy, we think he’s just coming into his own. He’s always had tremendous stuff, whatever the reasons might be it didn’t work in Colorado but he really turned the corner with the Indians and our scouting reports of him were outstanding.
“It’s a power arm with an out-pitch slider, swing and miss stuff, every good athlete and it’s someone we think, in time, can pitch late in the game. It was a small sample size with the Indians but he seemed to really get his confidence going, really had some success, and we think the stuff certainly translates to pitching late in the game and you can never have too many of those guys.’
How does the acquisition of Rogers impact negotiations with guys like Brandon Lyon and Jason Frasor? Is there still room for another arm?
“I wouldn’t say we’re ever done. It takes away some of the urgency to do something but the goal is to have a deep bullpen. If you’re going to be a contending team you’re going to be in most games, whether it’s down a few runs or up a few runs, you’re going to need a deep bullpen to either hold those leads or keep the game close.
“If you only have two or three guys to rely on, you’re going to end up burning them out and you’re not going to the performance. We want to have as deep of a bullpen as you can, you love to have swing and miss stuff if you can. It’s still early to tell, we could still have a scenario where we’d have a spot for someone but it’s probably not as much of a priority as it was before we made this trade.”
In terms of payroll and what your current needs are, do you need to fill holes in the starting rotation before moving on to potential upgrades in left field and second base?
‘It’s all fluid and mixed in together. In a perfect world, you would address your rotation first and see what’s left over but you just can’t. It’s impossible for us to dictate free agent timelines, other teams in trade. I’ve repeatedly said that the rotation is definitely the No. 1 priority but that doesn’t mean that if a trade for a reliever like Rogers comes up that we’ll put it on hold until we know we can make a trade for a starter.
“I think we just have to jump at the opportunity as they come and if that means a second base option comes up or a left field option comes up we’ll jump at that. But we always have our eye on the rotation as well.”
Would you ideally leave Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria in Triple-A for another year or does that depend on what moves you make this offseason?
“Ideally yes, but that’s not to say it’s going to be the way it’s going to work out. There are scenarios where both could be on this team. But in a perfect world we would have them in the Minor Leagues, continue to develop and get every day playing time. But come Spring Training depending on what has been done with the roster, where we have to allocate our funds, there’s a scenario where they could find themselves on the team.”