BOCA RATON, Fla. — Major League Baseball’s annual general managers’ meetings is an event where things don’t often get done, but plenty of stuff gets done.
Awards are handed out, starting with the The Sporting News Executive of the Year award, voted on by a panel of 47 general managers and their assistants. This year’s winner lapped the field, garnering more than twice as many votes as the second-place finisher. And Alex Anthopoulos is here without a job.
The wunderkind, ninja GM, who walked away from the Blue Jays less than a fortnight ago, unable to secure a “good fit” in the Mark Shapiro regime, built the team that ended a 22-year post-season drought, taking the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals to a sixth game in the American League Championship Series. He’s a pretty popular guy here.
Anthopoulos spent the day moving in and out of conversations with clubs who were more than likely trying to pitch him an offer to join their organization and help them reach the heights the Blue Jays did this October, when they were one of the last three teams left standing while nine times as many clubs sat home wishing they could be in Toronto’s position.
Much like his former peers who remain big-league GMs, Anthopoulos is laying groundwork — or at least having the groundwork laid before him — for the prospect of a future deal. He’s not ready to pull any triggers yet, but he got a chance to see what people have to offer and they tried to find out what he might be interested in pursuing.
“I’ve had a lot of phone calls from friends in the game who want to see how you’re doing, what your plans are,” Anthopoulos said. But the former Jays architect isn’t going to jump into anything. “I’m going to at least take a month and just take some downtime, re-evaluate some things, maybe go to the New Year and then at some point I will need to find a job again, I’ll need an income at some point. One thing I’ve gotten advice-wise is to not rush and that’s been pretty good advice.”
Anthopoulos re-iterated that he doesn’t need to be a general manager. The thrill of the chase, the wheel and deal, is big, without question, but he might be happiest as a scouting director, the draft being the thing he enjoys the most.
Those former peers of Anthopoulos are planting other seeds, as well. There isn’t likely to be a big trade made or a big free-agent signing here in Florida this week, but ideas are being thrown around and organizations are feeling each other out for the trading season that will follow soon after.
In 2012, these meetings were in Palm Desert, Calif., and it was there that the Blue Jays opened negotiations on a blockbuster deal with the then-Florida Marlins that would be completed a week later. Last year, the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers set the Winter Meetings on fire with what felt like non-stop wheeling and dealing. Most of those trades were originally discussed at the GM meetings the month before.
Ever the staunch Blue Jays loyalist, Anthopoulos left Shapiro, Tony LaCava and their crew with a plan as to how he would have handled the off-season. Trade targets, free agent scenarios, he was working on the Jays’ 2016 right up until his final day at Rogers Centre. It’s probably not as air-tight as the famed Costanza plan to bring Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. to the New York Yankees in the mid-90s, but chances are there are some pretty solid ideas in there.
Whether LaCava and his lieutenants Andrew Tinnish, Perry Minasian and Joe Sheehan et al want to follow Anthopoulos’s plan, or go with their own ideas, a directive from above or some combination of all three, this is the place to get people talking, and that’s what they did all day Monday and will continue to do throughout the week.