Former Jays GM Anthopoulos returns to Toronto with Dodgers
In this file photo, former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks at a press conference in Toronto, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. (Mark Blinch / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, May 6, 2016 7:30PM EDT
TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos has few regrets from his time with the Toronto Blue Jays, but he can't deny thinking about his former team.
The former Blue Jays general manager spoke with media on Friday night, ahead of Toronto's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Anthopoulos, who was born in Montreal, joined the Dodgers organization after he declined a contract extension from incoming Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro.
"Anyone that says they don't look back is lying," said Anthopoulos, who still lives in Toronto with his family. "In these jobs you look back all the time, you're evaluating all the time."
Anthopoulos was the driving force behind Toronto's playoff push last season. He acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Athletics in the winter of 2014, then made a flurry of trades ahead of the 2015 trade deadline to acquire shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and ace pitcher David Price amongst others, catapulting the Blue Jays to an American League East division title and the team's first post-season appearance since the 1993 World Series.
Despite that success, Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays parted company when he turned down a five-year contract extension from the team. He became L.A.'s vice-president of baseball operations on Jan. 12.
The only trade Anthopoulos regrets is one he didn't make: bringing in utility fielder Ben Zobrist from Oakland, who instead went to the Kansas City Royals, the team that eliminated the Blue Jays from the American League Championship Series.
"As time has gone on, I guess it's been a few months, I look back and what if we had gotten Ben Zobrist?" said Anthopoulos. "Kansas City, they don't have him. It may have influenced some other deals, we may not have had some of the players to make some of the other deals.
"That's probably the one I've thought about the most. What if we had done it, you know? We get to Game 7 in Kansas City, who the heck knows what happens?"
Zobrist hit .320 with two home runs and four RBIs in the ALCS against Toronto, before helping the Royals win the World Series.
Despite his sudden departure from Toronto, Anthopoulos has no ill will toward Shapiro or anyone else in the Blue Jays organization. When told by a reporter that the current administration has never mentioned him by name since leaving for Los Angeles, Anthopoulos laughed.
"My relationship with Mark has always been good," said Anthopoulos, who sat at the podium in the bowels of the Rogers Centre where he often sat to announce trades. The difference now was a black curtain behind him, covering the Blue Jays backdrop. "Not that there's a pre-existing relationship, other than the time we spent together in the organization, he treated me great.
"Really great conversation with him over the course of (negotiations). He was great, he was honest the whole way, treated me with respect. You could say the same of the ownership group."
Anthopoulos's exit came as a surprise to many fans, with the former Jays GM admitting that he saw himself in Toronto for the foreseeable future.
"I would say through to the end of the month of August I expected to be here for five, 10, 20 years, whatever it was going to be," said Anthopoulos. "And then things rolled into September and it was probably the first time it entered into my mind that I might not be back.
"But certainly the decision wasn't done until later."