The Toronto Blue Jays say a dramatic change in club policy that now prevents employees from leaving to take a lateral position with another organization has nothing to do with a fear of losing John Farrell, but everything to do with speculation surrounding his future.
On Tuesday, the club announced it had amended a policy that previously stated there was no need for rival clubs to formally seek permission for an interview, to work within a negotiating window, or face a request for compensation for Blue Jays employees.
“Due to the distraction caused by media speculation regarding our employee permission policy, the Toronto Blue Jays have amended their policy and will not grant permission for lateral moves,” read a statement signed by Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston and general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
The policy — which pre-dated Anthopoulos’ tenure with the club — had become a hot topic in recent days following a Boston Globe report on Oct. 23 that suggested the Red Sox might be in interested in poaching Farrell for their vacant managerial position.
On Tuesday, Anthopoulos told reporters a “loophole” in the policy needed to be closed, but not because he feared losing Farrell or any other employee to another club.
“Because of the way the policy was set up, we’ll always be open to rumours and speculation and, ultimately, it has become a distraction for the club,” he explained.
“In terms of fear to lose someone to a lateral move, there isn’t a fear because again, I point back to what the policy is going forward. There’s no fear at all because we (now) have a policy in place."
When asked whether the Jays might have feared losing someone to a lateral move had they not altered the policy, Anthopoulos spoke in past tense.
“There was no fear, it’s never been that way,” he said. “Paul (Beeston) always had it. In the two years that I’ve been GM up until this call, I’ve never once denied anybody permission to ever talk to any other club.
“After this, we’re going to refer to the policy. We’re never going to get into specifics on us hiring employees or employees being hired by other clubs. Those are roads and avenues that we’re never going to go down.”
Sportsnet Radio 590 Audio: Anthopoulos on PTS Tuesday
The decision to change the policy came about following a recent meeting between the president and the GM in which Beeston told Anthopoulos the policy “wasn’t working” and the Jays GM agreed a change needed to be made.
Anthopoulos said he, Beeston and other members of the Blue Jays front office have been “inundated” with e-mails over the past few days since the Farrell story broke, but he understands why.
“Anytime there’s any type of opening, in any position in the game, somebody has the right to speculate or write a story and there would be merit to it, strictly because of the way the (previous) policy was set up.”