Blue Jays change policy; Farrell not leaving
Amid Boston managerial talk, club won't allow lateral moves
Blue Jays manager John Farrell will not be shipping back to Boston.
On Tuesday, amidst rampant rumors that the Red Sox might be interested in bringing Farrell back to his former organization, Toronto announced a change in its employee policy. Without mentioning Farrell specifically, the Blue Jays made it clear that he will not be managing their American League East rivals any time soon.
Blue Jays team president Paul Beeston and general manager Alex Anthopoulos issued a joint statement that read: "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."
In a conference call with reporters, Anthopoulos said it was the media distraction, and not the fear that Farrell would be interested in heading back to Boston's bench in Fenway Park, that convinced the Blue Jays to alter its policy.
"It's 100 percent about a smoother work flow," Anthopoulos said. "Somebody has the right to speculate or to write a story, and there would be merit to it, strictly because of the way the policy was set up. So knowing that it's a little more strict and a little more defined, I think it will eliminate a lot of that."
The Red Sox are searching for a new manager after parting ways with Terry Francona following Boston's historic September collapse. Farrell, who served as Francona's pitching coach prior to being hired to manage the Blue Jays last offseason, was once considered in line to be Boston's next skipper.
It had been reported in recent days that the Red Sox still viewed Farrell as a candidate.
As a result, Anthopoulos said he and Beeston, along with others employed within Toronto's front office and field staff, had been "inundated with phone calls and emails" about the issue. The Blue Jays' GM indicated that the wave of media inquiries quickly became a distraction from more important baseball matters.
That led to a brainstorming session between Anthopoulos and Beeston.
"The way the policy was set up," Anthopoulos explained, "we'll always be open to rumors, speculation, questions and so on. That ultimately has become a distraction for the club and it's certainly taken a lot of time away from my day and Paul's day and so on.
"This was something that Paul and I sat down and felt that, 'You know what? This policy does not work the way it was intended to work right now.' I certainly agreed with him."
Before Tuesday's announcement, which fell on the one-year anniversary of Farrell's hiring in Toronto, the Blue Jays' policy allowed its employees the freedom to seek any other job opportunities. Toronto will still do so, as long as the vacant position elsewhere is not a "lateral" transition.
The Blue Jays do not hinder their employees from seeking jobs that are upgrades over their current standing. For example, it has been reported that Tony LaCava, an assistant GM under Anthopoulos, has interviewed for the vacant general manager position with the Baltimore Orioles.
Anthopoulos did not specifically address LaCava's possible move, but reiterated how much he has meant to him and the Toronto organization.
"I've worked with him for a long time," Anthopoulos said. "When you've worked with someone for a long time, you grow close to them, you rely on them, you value them as employees. I think any GM would say the same thing for a front-office employee that they've worked with for a long time. I can't say enough good things about Tony."
Anthopoulos shot down the idea that a lateral move might be allowed if the other team was willing to offer some type of compensation.
"It's totally, 100 percent, lateral moves," Anthopoulos said. "It's exactly the way it reads."
That makes it clear that Farrell is staying put as Toronto's manager.
This past season, the 49-year-old Farrell helped guide a newlook Blue Jays squad to an 81-81 record, which was good enough for fourth place in the AL East. He was hired after long-time Toronto skipper Cito Gaston stepped down as manager following the 2010 season in favor of shifting into an advisory role with the organization.
"John did a great job," Anthopoulos said. "With the talent that we ran out there for him, finishing at .500, I thought was a great accomplishment by him, and also a really great accomplishment for the entire staff as well. I think he's going to continue to get better, continue to grow.
"Our relationship continues to grow and I think he's going to be one of the best managers in the game."