Owners backed GM's pursuit of Chapman
Anthopoulos seeking young impact players to form core
TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos must have a very understanding wife. While on his honeymoon in Hawaii last week, the relentless general manager of the Blue Jays was still hard at work, fielding calls and exchanging e-mails and text messages with other clubs and player agents.
While Anthopoulos was away, the biggest move he made was one that did not come to fruition. The Blue Jays emerged as one of the surprising favorites to land Cuban pitching prospect Aroldis Chapman, who ultimately signed with the Reds on Monday.
Chapman did not choose Toronto, but the fact that the Blue Jays were major players in the bidding for the highly touted left-hander said a lot.
Toronto's involvement showed again that the organization is taking an aggressive approach to its revamped scouting under Anthopoulos, who is striving to reel in young impact players to form a strong future core. It showed that Anthopoulos wants to leave "no stone unturned" -- as he has been apt to say -- and it revealed that he has financial backing in that regard from team ownership.
Anthopoulos wants to be clear, though.
"The intent wasn't to try to make it a PR move," he said.
Maybe not, but Anthopoulos' pursuit of Chapman revealed more about the young GM as he aims to rebuild the foundation of the organization. For Anthopoulos, who said in December that Toronto did not have enough background on Chapman to make a serious offer, he believes trying to obtain the pitcher merely fell in line with the GM's plans and direction.
Anthopoulos has maintained that he wants to target young, controllable players who can help the Blue Jays reach a period of sustained success. The GM first displayed this approach with the bold December trade that sent ace Roy Halladay to the Phillies and brought top prospects Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace and Travis d'Arnaud to Toronto.
"I just think we're being very consistent with what we've said and the type of players that we're going to go after," Anthopoulos said. "That isn't to say that isn't the only kind of players we're going to go after. ... You'd love to say you're going to get young, high-ceiling players at every spot, and you're going to try to do that.
"At some point, though, you will have to supplement with free agency or you'll have to make a trade for maybe a more established player and so on. But really, the focus right now is that."
Cincinnati was the surprising winner in the Chapman sweepstakes by handing the 21-year-old lefty $30.25 million over a six-year contract. The pact included a $16.25 million signing bonus, and much of the money will be spread out over a 10-year period. There is always the chance that Chapman's camp tried to use the Jays and other teams to inflate the final value.
Chapman's agent, Randy Hendricks, said that the A's were the runner-up in the bidding for the pitcher. Hendricks would not reveal which club came in third -- except to say that the team had a sub-.500 record last season. Beyond the Jays, who had 75 wins in 2009, the Nationals, Marlins, Angels and Red Sox were all believed to have interest in Chapman.
As the Blue Jays did their internal evaluations, it became clear that they were not going to be a serious player for Chapman in the end.
"He's a young left-hander that can throw up to 100 mph who's a great athlete," Anthopoulos said. "It's to be expected that there's going to be a lot of teams involved. Our focus throughout the process really wasn't on what other teams were doing. It's a very difficult thing to gauge. It's hard, because this isn't a pure free agent. He's not someone out of the Draft.
"You're trying to set a value, and it's tough to come up with a formula or a science to it. Really, it's something you have to do internally. What we did, like I'm sure all the other clubs did, we tried to figure out internally how we valued the player from our financial perspective -- how he was going to fit with what we are trying to do.
"Obviously, we liked the player. Financially, we just weren't in that area."
It was reported that the Blue Jays offered a contract worth $23 million for Chapman. Anthopoulos would not confirm nor deny that report, only saying that "there have been so many things thrown around and I can say, just generally speaking, very little of what I've read has been entirely accurate."
Anthopoulos did note that team ownership was willing to support the Chapman signing -- to a point.
"Just going through the Chapman process," Anthopoulos said, "if we had placed a certain value on the player, we had authority to move forward. That points to the confidence that they have in us and also I think the support that they have in the team. If there's a good baseball move that they feel makes sense for the organization, we have the money to go ahead and do it. And I don't expect that to change."
Anthopoulos is fortunate to have a very supportive wife as well.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.