Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays Burned Some Bridges? Not Likely.

This is a post that is hard to write, because I don’t personally believe it to be a major issue going forward. However, in listening to radio talk shows, in reading posts made by opposing team blogs, and in reading comments made by fans, it seems that a lot of people believe Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays may have stepped into bad area, one that has put the star GM in a place no GM wants to be in: the outside looking in.

What am I talking about here?

The perfect example of what I’m talking about can be read about at Halos Heaven, as only one example of many that illustrates how things may have changed for Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays. Written by Rev Halofan, here is the link and title:

Mike Napoli a Ranger in Blue Jay Backstabbing

It focuses on the fact that many LAA fans are angry that the Jays handed the Angels some financial handcuffs by trading them Vernon Wells, and also the Mike Napoli “flip” that I’ll get into soon. The funny thing is that most of their fans comment in that post that they’d love to hire Alex Anthopoulos to be their GM and that he places most of the blame on his front office, not on Alex’s shoulders. Still, others are more critical of Alex than this post.

As everyone knows by now, the Jays acquired Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in return for Vernon Wells and some cash from the Angels. Assistant Rangers GM Thad Levin later admitted on MLB Radio that Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays must have heard about their interest in Mike Napoli during the winter meetings, because he called the Rangers soon after putting the finishing touches on the Wells deal and got a deal done very quickly for Frank Francisco. Like a wolf in the henhouse, Anthopoulos saw a desperate team, a couple of opportunities, and made both of those opprtunities become realities.

What a professional!

A Smart “Flip” for the Long Term?

Was the Napoli “flip” a calculated and smart on paper move by Alex Anthopoulos? Obviously. A smart move overall? People are not so sure. It’s one thing to look at this deal and say that it all adds up to a plus for the Jays today. They got rid of a heavy contract, got a closer, freed up some room to add others within their budget, and will likely reap the benefits of a few picks when Frank Francisco – who was acquired in return for Napoli – leaves.

But, it’s another thing to look at all of the other GMs in MLB and wonder who they feel about the Jays flipping Napoli to the very team the Angels did not want to trade him to. Will other GMs now be more careful when dealing with Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays? It seems that this could be likely in many cases due to this deal.

Now, having said that, it could simply mean that opposing GMs will demand more in return from Alex, or that they’ll want some assurances that his intentions are not to flip a player they trade him to their division rivals. But, to me, that’s not likely to be a request often made or often replied to. How can you “demand” to know what a team will do with a certain player once he’s dealt? You can’t.

Tread Carefully around the Jays?

If people who blieve the Jays stepped on some toes by “flipping” Napoli are right, that leaves teams with only one option: tread carefully when dealing with Anthopoulos and the Jays. Up to now, the Jays had not stepped on toes in this manner. The Roy Halladay deal, the Shaun Marcum deal, and the Yunel Escobar deal all had clear lines of trades that did not cross into divisional issues.

The Napoli deal however, does exactly that. Can the Angels trust Alex and the Jays to not do this in the future if they do cross paths in a deal again? Probably not. Should the Jays be forced to voice what their intentions are each time they trade? Definitely not. But, has it been the norm that teams do not “flip” a player to a division rival of the team they initially traded with – particularly this soon after the first deal was conducted – I would say that this has been the case. I can’t find a good example of an occurance where a GM dealt a player so soon after acquiring him to a team that is the divisional rival of the initial trade. If you have an example, please let me know in the comments.


Trust is something that is earned, and once it’s lost it is incredibly hard to regain. Have the Jays and Alex Anthopoulos lost some of the trust they had earned by keeping things so quiet and professional in their previous trade talks? It could very well be, but nobody can say for certain. All I know for certain at this point is that the sentiment being talked about in many circles of MLB is that the Jays did something that may not be a clear cut violation of how to act when dealing with other clubs, but did violate an organization’s wishes in terms of where that player winds up, something that may not have needed to be said during trade discussions.

Believe me, the GM inner circle of MLB is a very small brethren and word gets around pretty quickly. There are definitely some GMs who won’t care in the least that this happened. They’ll understand that business is business and that it was the right of the Jays to conduct matters in this fashion. However, there will also likely be a few that will, at the very least, be hesitant to deal impact players to the Jays now that this flip has occured.

Hypothetical Scenario

Imagine the White Sox or Detroit Tigers are in a heated race for the division lead in the AL Central and that the Jays have a player they really covet, someone like Jose Bautista – just for a hypothetical example. The Jays are demanding someone, amongst many others, that one of these teams knows is sought after by the Minnesota Twins and the Jays are adament that this player be included. Their options then become to either ask for more “benefits” in return for the players they are sending so that they mitigate against this very risk, something that makes a deal less likely to occur, or to forgo the deal altogether in order to make 100% sure that it won’t happen.

The scenario just given is a simplification of what could happen, but it applies to each and every team in MLB. Although all teams are supposed to look at the bottom line of a trade and ask themselves whether it makes their team better, without giving thought to the impact the players they trade away will have on other teams, we all know that in the majority of cases this isn’t the way business is conducted. Few teams can do what the Marlins did this off season and trade an impact player to a divisional rival when they traded Dan Uggla to the Braves. The same will likely hold true for most organizations if they view a “flip” to be just as bad as dealing a player directly to their rivals.

Final Impact : Any Impact on Future Deals?

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I doubt that in the majority of cases other teams will be influenced by the latest “flip” conducted by Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays. Could there be a few GMs that tread lightly around him now? Sure, that could be. But knowing how Alex operated and how professional and respectful a communicator he has been in everything he does, I can’t see him not being able to smooth over any rough edges that may result from this deal. If there’s a match in terms of a deal to be made, it’s likely that he’ll find a way to get it done.

So, although everyone who looks at this deal and goes “wow, this is new” is correct in the fact that the Angels can’t be pleased about the flip aspect of the deal, they also inflate how “angry” the Angels likely are or should be since business is business. They got the player they want, go rid of the headaches they didn’t want, and now have to try to win. It’s as simple as that. What happens to the players they trade away is simply out of their jurisdiction. Hopefully, other GMs in MLB will see it that way, and I believe the majority will. For the sake of the Jays organization, I hope I’m right!

Alex Anthopoulos has earned the respect, and hopefully the trust, of many MLB executives very quickly as he has taken the Jays on and revamped their operations and roster. If something as minor as flipping a player just acquired gets in the way of that, I just wouldn’t understand it at all. If a deal makes sense for your organization, make the deal. Making that evaluation is the key part of the deal, not what happens to players you’ve dealt. I would agree that the Angels may be the one team that treads more carefully in future dealings with Anthopolous and the Jays, but would doubt that many more would do the same.

At least that’s my take on it!

- MG

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Tags: Alex Anthopoulos Frank Francisco Mike Napoli Vernon Wells

  • Morgan

    This is an interesting perspective.

    I read a post somewhere else a couple weeks ago, I forget where I found it, but it suggested that the Angels may have known Napoli was going to be flipped to the Rangers.

    The author thought of it this way: the Angels, Blue Jays, and Rangers had worked out a 3-way trade. BUT due to the risk of fan backlash Reagins asked Anthopolous to hold onto Napoli for a few days so the trade becomes “a flip”, instead of the 3-way deal it actually was.

    I’m not saying this is what happened, as I have zero insider knowledge and cannot remember where I read the article. But I do think it is another interesting angle to think about.

    • Mat Germain

      Wow, that would be an innovative route to take to say the least! Thanks for that input as it’s an angle I hadn’t considered.

      If there’s any truth to it, it would mean that Alex is more likely to be respected and trusted throughout the GM brethren….it would change everything just posted above.

      I doubt we’ll ever know for sure, but maybe we’ll find out a little more when one of these 3 GMs is “let go” at some point….

      I certainly hope someone asks them that question when it happens!

    • Sean p Heffernan


    • Sean p Heffernan

      I say “Tuff titty” AA’s job is to make the jays better not to make life easier for other teams.

      Ps that catcha code has got to go I am sick of having to re write comments

  • Tom

    Great piece, really does bring up a lot of good points. It might be a while, if ever, to how this whole thing really went down comes out. Hopefully, though for the Jays Alex knew all the potential ramifications of moving Napoli to the Rangers and wasn’t concerned with them. I doubt he’d be setting himself up as a guy not to be trusted this early in his tenure.

    In a related note, I read on twitter today that the Red Sox have a clause in their contract with Carl Crawford that if he is traded to another team he cannot then be dealt to the Yankees. That’s a pretty interesting clause and maybe something that could catch on with other teams in the future. Then teams could put language into deals keeping guys from getting spun to divisional or even same city opponents.

  • Mike F

    I’d be more concerned of owners not wanting their players flipped to division rivals for some reason. Wonder if they’re a little more emotional and a little less rational on those types of things.

  • Al

    Anthopoulos made a couple of points about this subject:
    1. AA stated that a number of teams contacted him about acquiring Napoli as soon as the deal went down. We can’t know for certain whether Levin was right about AA doing the calling but it’s a contradiction that I’m sure the other GMs noticed but will never pursue because either someone is lying or they are misinformed.
    2. AA stated that the Angels front office knew Napoli might be flipped. This makes Morgan’s scenario that much more believable and leaves me thinking that we don’t have to worry about AA’s “reputation”.

    Great topic though, thanks for posting.

    • Angel Tickets

      agree with you sir.

  • James H

    The way AA conduct his business in trade is a bit unconventional. He targets a prospect that he really wants and try different way to get him. Most GM will tell you that it is very hard to tell which top prospect will work out and which one will blame out. So, usually GM asked for both quality and quantity in prospects in returns. Use the Lawrie-for-Marcum trade as an example, if Lawrie develops into a super star MLB player, and Marcum become a useful mid rotation starter as we all expect him to be, what do other GM thinks of AA if he approach him for a specific prospect multiple times? I would think twice before dealing any prospect that AA really really wants.


    A. You don’t want this trade to blow up in your face in a few years.
    B. Why not hang on to this player that AA wants so much? Look at the Lawrie trade! There must be sth in that player that we don’t see!

    I still think that AA should use/abuse the entry draft to the maximum where no one can stop him getting what he wants in terms of prospect. And all trades/FB (at least for the 2011 season since the CBA will expire) will have one extra purpose in mind and that is to net picks and abuse the system while you still can

    • lolwut

      Uhh Lawrie is still an unproven prospect while Marcum is a proven #2/3 starter and it seems Brewers are looking to contend so it seems like a fair trade for both sides. Lawrie was also being blocked by Weeks, Braun, Hart (can’t remember 3B name but him as well) so they dealt from a strength and improved a weakness. Jays dealt from their strength which is their pitching and improved their weakness in 2B/3B/OF. Jays get a great high upside player but the fact remains, no one will know whether or not he will perform at the big level.

      It’s kind of a homerun deal for the Jays and a safe bet deal for Brewers. Seems like a fair trade to me.

      AA has taken risks with some prospects deal such as Gose… Wallace is more of a sure bet and he was ready while Gose has super high upside but there is that risk too which is he can easily turn into a bust and he is far away from the bigs.

      So even though GM’s are trading the prospects AA wants, they are also getting the player they want.

      Looking at AA’s trade history that is what it seems to suggest. Both teams get the players they want. Now some may work well for AA and some might not. Let’s face it, Phillies killed us in the Halladay deal. AA killed Mariners in Morrow and Escobar deal (so far, keep in mind Pastornicky could become a good SS in the future + they got better NOW — at that time anyways).

      AA is really an opportunistic GM.

    • Gerry

      Why not hang on to this player that AA wants so much? Look at the Lawrie trade! There must be sth in that player that we don’t see!

      This happens all the time in stocks. There have to be two sides to any exchange. one guy sees opportunity where another sees a loss. When you have a match, the stock sells. And as in the market, these trades really are a gamble.

      • Celtic Tickets

        I agree with your opinion.

  • lolwut

    I think you guys are looking too deep into it. Yeah sure AA flipped Napoli to a division rival but the Angel GM knew that was a possibility when he made the deal. If Angels GM was that worried about Napoli going to the Rangers then why not have some sort of under the table agreement stating that AA won’t flip Napoli to the Rangers. Besides, Angels weren’t even that high on Napoli and one team loss, is another’s gain.

    I keep seeing how people should be careful with AA because he rips others off in trades but I’m not sure if that’s fair. AA does his homework and he is constantly working the phones to see who is available and he is very opportunistic. He saw an opportunity to get Morrow for a reliever + decent prospect… Mariners didn’t want him and got something that would have helped them as much as Morrow would have.

    Then AA gets Escobar, another player that fell out of favor from Braves and AA cashes in on buying low on a solid SS.

    Yes, none of these trades crossed with a division rival but the facts remain Napoli is a decent player at best. He is a mediocre catcher and has a good enough bat to DH so really how much could Angels be pissed anyways? It’s not like they traded Weaver to us who got flipped to the Rangers. It’s Angels GM own fault. He knew the possibility of Napoli getting flipped and he made the trade. AA didn’t hold a gun to his head and force him to.

    Perhaps GM will be careful trading with AA if there is that possibility he wants to flip them to their division rival but really, GM’s will do what’s best for their team… not to mention something like this hardly ever happens.

  • Mylegacy

    What will be interesting to see with AA – will be his reaction when he makes a Marcum/ Lawrie type trade and it turns out the Marcum type guy continues to be very good and the Lawrie type guy flames out. I wonder how aggressive he’ll be going forward after a few “flame outs.”

    As to him burning bridges or pissing off GM’s – I really don’t think so. As others above have said – when the trades were made – they met a need on both sides. However, I have a very, very hard time seeing as how the Wells trade will ever go down as other than being grand theft larceny of the first order.

    • Al

      Sort of already happened with Brett Wallace after flipping Taylor for him. Mind you, the pursuit of Wallace started with the previous regime so AA may not have had much invested so to speak, but seeing how quickly AA responded and traded Wallace again before any possible damage was done is pretty reassuring…..guy always has a plan it seems :)

    • George Norman

      AA7 made it quite plain when he took over that he was going to target low cost, high ceiling players like Lawrie, and he also expects that some of them will “flame out”. The idea is that if you can get enough of them (which he is doing), then enough will make it to The Show and be impact players when they get there.

  • Larry

    In one of the interviews that AA conducted, I think it was with the FAN 590 (I listened to the interview), AA specifically asked the Angels GM which teams had an interest in Mike Napoli. The Angels GM indicated that the Rangers were one of the teams (as well as some other teams). According to AA the Angels GM gave the same answer as what AA already knew from his discovery sessions during the winter meeting. The Angels GM knew that this flip was a possibily. AA was upfront; it does not appear to me that AA did anything wrong; why else would the Angels GM tell him that the Rangers had an interest? AA conducted himself as a professional should.

  • Gunner Wolfe

    Hey sir, keep up the good work, but I couldn’t help but noticing that you misspelled Alex Anthopoulos.

    The -ou- comes on the second last syllable, not the last syllable. Crazy Greek people, I know.

    • Mat Germain

      No idea how I’ve missed this error, and thanks a ton for letting me know!

  • George Norman

    It really doesn’t make a difference what the fans, or bloggers, or so-called “experts” think about the trade, because that’s just their opinion, and has no basis in reality. When I hear the Halo’s GM go on record as thinking he has been taken, then I will give some credence to the notion. In the meantime, every club realizes that once a player is off their books, whether via trade or free agency, they face the possibility that he might end up on their front lawn someday.

  • Drew

    There is one important factor I haven’t read yet: Angels fans, specifically Halos Heaven, are the whiniest bunch of victims you’ll ever some across. The chip on their collective shoulders has a clip on its collective shoulder.