THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — The overhaul of the Toronto Blue Jays continued Tuesday as the club named John Gibbons its new manager.
The announcement came a day after the team finalized a mammoth 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins and signed free agent left-fielder Melky Cabrera.
Gibbons returns to the Toronto dugout after managing the Jays from 2004 to 2008. He succeeds John Farrell, who left Toronto to manage the Boston Red Sox.
Gibbons’ name hadn’t been mentioned as a possibility to replace Farrell but Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he was confident he had hired the right man for the job.
"I don’t know that there was anybody better in terms of managing a bullpen, connecting with the players, connecting with the front office, holding players accountable," Anthopoulos told a news conference. "Really everything you want in a manager. From my standpoint, I don’t have any stronger belief that this is the right guy to lead this team."
Gibbons, 50, became manager of the Blue Jays in 2004 when then-general manager J.P. Ricciardi fired Carlos Tosca.
Gibbons was eventually fired on June 20, 2008, and replaced by former Jays manager Cito Gaston, who had led the team to World Series championships in 1992 and 1993.
He had a 305-305 record in his first stint with Toronto.
"It has happened fast," Gibbons said of being hired for a second stint. "I am thrilled to be back. It’s always good to see some old friendly faces."
In the Marlins deal, which was agreed to last week but only finalized Monday, Toronto acquired all-star shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck and infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio from Miami.
In return, the Marlins got infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino, catcher Jeff Mathis and outfielder Jake Marisnick in the deal. The Marlins also are sending cash to Toronto as part of their payroll purge.
Cabrera, 28, was leading the National League in hitting at .346 for the San Francisco Giants when he was suspended Aug. 15 for a positive testosterone test.
"I think he’s going to be a tremendous addition to the lineup," said Anthopoulos. "(He’s a) contact hitter. Obviously he brings some speed, brings some defence as well."
Anthopoulos had said after Toronto’s disappointing campaign in 2012 — one that saw the club go 73-89 and finish fourth in the American League East — that he wanted to improve the team’s starting pitching.
He did so in dramatic fashion, pulling off one of the biggest deals in franchise history that changes the look of the team and immediately puts the Blue Jays in the conversation for the American League East crown.
But with the deal will come increased expectations.
Toronto, which has not made the playoffs since the ’93 World Series victory, acquired combined guaranteed salaries of US$163.75 million through 2018 in the deal, including $96 million due Reyes.
"The front office has put together a legitimate, contending-type team," said Gibbons. "Now it’s the manager’s job and the coaching staff’s job to pull it together as a team and get the most out of these guys. That’s our No. 1 job."
Gibbons most recently managed the San Antonio Missions of the double-A Texas League in the San Diego Padres organization last season. He also had three seasons as the Kansas City Royals bench coach.
Gibbons joined the Blue Jays coaching staff in 2002 as a bullpen catcher and was promoted midseason to first base coach. He served in that capacity until replacing Tosca.
Before joining the Blue Jays the first time, Gibbons spent 11 seasons working with the New York Mets.
He joins Gaston as managers serving two stints with the Blue Jays.