Is Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos Being Held Back?

Adam Corsair
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As the Blue Jays approach the July 31st Trade Deadline, fans are anxiously awaiting for Alex Anthopoulos to make a move to help strengthen their favorite team. Sometimes it’s quite easy for GMs to agree on a trade, making seamless transitions that includes lower level prospects, cash, or the famous “Player to be Named Later.” Yet, with payroll parameters a factor, as well as the reluctance to part with the future of the organization, Alex Anthopoulos has yet to make a move to improve his club. Understandably so, it becomes more frustrating as we near closer and closer to the deadline, as we can all hear the collective, “JUST MAKE A MOVE!!” yelled out by Jays fans everywhere.

Often times fans love to play GM and suggest, “Hey, if we can trade this guy, who’s pretty alright, for that guy who’s just awesome, we’d be better! Alex should just go do that!” The obvious problem with this is that GMs don’t operate this way and it’s, in fact, much harder to make a deal; especially approaching the deadline. More and more clubs get involved for the same targeted player, which means the ante raises, allowing one team to attain the player that they hope will make a difference. In other words, this isn’t fantasy baseball. Alex Anthopoulos has certain parameters that prevents him from making monster moves, mostly enforced by Rogers. Thus, it makes me wonder – is Alex Anthopoulos set up to fail?

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

I brought this to the attention of Jays Nest hosts Shaun Doyle and Keegan Matheson several weeks ago (

side note: seriously,

), and I am still not convinced that Alex may not be getting the support that he needs in order to make a move. Consider this – what if the higher-ups from Rogers have already made up their minds about the futures of both Anthopoulos and John Gibbons?

It’s a fair question, given that Beeston is out the door, and a new ball-club President will be inevitably introduced during the off-season. Perhaps Rogers assumes that the new President will wish to work with his own people – a GM of his choosing, which isn’t a far-fetched possibility. Perhaps, unknown to both Alex and John, they’re already out the door in the minds of Rogers.

The idea that has been floating around is that Anthopoulos’ job is on the line if the Jays don’t make a serious playoff push. The same can be said for Gibbons. In order for Alex to make this push, he absolutely must improve the Jays via trades, period. Yet, already there are limitations as to what kinds of a player(s) he can acquire via trade, set up by ownership. He cannot acquire players that will cost too much.

In fact, it’s been said that Anthopoulos left himself about $7MM after the off-season to serve as a cushion for the trade deadline. But that is only $7MM of extra cash for this season. Are we certain that the payroll will stay the same next season? Are we certain that it will rise? The answer is no to both. Given how frugal ownership has been with the Jays payroll (save for 2013), I think we can assume that Anthopoulos cannot acquire a player with a high salary. This leaves room for only two types of players that are both costly (in terms of farm system stock) and rare. Either Alex can acquire a rental player that will only serve the team for the remainder of the season, or a player that is cheap but has years of control.

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  • Here’s where it gets interesting. Let’s say that Alex pulls the trigger and trades for Cueto (

    note: as of this writing, it hasn’t happened. Just work with me here

    ). I think it’s safe to say that Cueto is going to be expensive in terms of the prospects that the Reds will want in return. But, I think we can generally agree that Cueto would be a difference maker for the Jays and immediately put them, at the very least, in the conversation for the playoffs. However, if Alex pulls the trigger on a rental player like Cueto and the Jays

    don’t

    make the playoffs, he then serves as a scapegoat for ownership, which may be what they want.

    Or, let’s take the flip-side. Let’s say that Alex, for whatever reason, isn’t able to make a deal (outbid, value doesn’t align, whatever), and we’re left with the team that, as it stands, isn’t able to get to the playoffs. Again, it’s conceivable that he serves as a scapegoat for ownership for his failure to make a deal – “Hey fans! Don’t blame US! It was ALEX who couldn’t get the deal done!”. Or, let’s say that Alex is able to acquire a player that would significantly make a difference, but costs more than the rumored $7MM the Jays have this year, and/or will cost the Jays more than they can afford in the future. Are we confident that ownership will greenlight such a move? I, personally, am not and think it’s much more likely that we would get that good ol’ “It just didn’t line-up the way we would have liked it to…” excuse.

    There does seem to be a way for Alex to hold his job, even with the failure to make the playoffs, while making a move at the same time. He has to work his “Ninja GM” skills and acquire a player that doesn’t cost a lot, but has a lot of years of control. This way, he’s making both ownership happy as well as maintaining hope to make the playoffs for the fan-base. Depending on the package being sent away from Toronto, I think given the lack of a playoff appearance since 1993, Jays fans are itching for a move that will be viewed as impactful.

    But, as I mentioned, we must understand that players such as these don’t come cheap and will cost the Jays a high level prospect. The question then becomes, is ownership willing to allow Alex to sacrifice a big piece of their future in order to win now? If the answer is no, then his tenure as the Jays GM is all but over. If the answer is yes, then at least he can say that he tried his best.
    What do you think? Do you think that Anthopoulos has the support from ownership to make an impactful move? Or do you think ownership already has their minds made up and they are phasing him out? Leave a comment below to offer your take.

    Next: Should The Blue Jays Trade Marcus Stroman?

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