In a pair of excellent columns, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet and Jonah Keri of Grantland offer behind-the-scenes looks at the chaotic week of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the trade deadline. Each spoke directly to Anthopoulos, and while Keri’s piece focuses on blockbuster deals for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, Zwelling’s looks at each day of Anthopoulos’ week leading up to the deadline (including those trades and other discussions) — painting a vivid picture of the life of a general manager during one of the most chaotic times of the year.
Some highlights from each piece, although I’d highly recommend reading each in its entirety…
- Both Zwelling and Keri note that talks between the Blue Jays and Rockies date back to the offseason, but the initial concept of Jose Reyes and pitching prospects for Tulowitzki surfaced in late May. Anthopoulos, Zwelling writes, had been unwilling to part with Jeff Hoffman until the day that Tulowitzki was traded. When Hoffman’s name was put on the table, talks with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich accelerated quickly. Zwelling’s piece also provides a glimpse into the difficult task of Anthopoulos informing Reyes that he’d been traded.
- Meanwhile, Anthopoulos told Keri that the decision to add Tulowitzki did have its detractors within the Toronto front office. “They brought up the length of his contract, the dollars on his contract, the players we’d have to give up,” said Anthopoulos. However, his take on the situation varied. “Players like that don’t become available,” said the Toronto GM. “They sign 10-year contracts and become the face of a franchise. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was weird, the process was long and stressful … but it was also a lot of fun.”
- Zwelling writes that Anthopoulos was in negotiation for players such as Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra and Mike Leake as well, but an eventual phone call from Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski caused him to shift his focus to Price. Dombrowski had told Anthopoulos a week before the trade deadline that he’d call him if he decided to move Price, and despite the fact that Anthopoulos saw constant rumors about Price’s availability, his respect for Dombrowski prevented him from calling to check in. “His guarantee that he’d call me was all I needed,” said Anthopoulos. “Dave’s a complete pro. No matter what was being said in the media, I was going to take his word for it. When and if the time presented itself, he was going to call.”
- Anthopoulos tells Zwelling that while there was pressure to get a deal for Price and/or another starter done, he did have a fallback plan. Anthopoulos had a standing agreement in place for a yet-unnamed lesser pitcher than Price that he could’ve swung on July 31, but the move for Price halted that need.
- Keri notes that Anthopoulos was on the phone with Mariners counterpart Jack Zduriencik discussing Mark Lowe when Dombrowski came calling with the info that he was ready to move Price. “I’m dying to jump off the phone, but I don’t want to do that to Jack,” said Anthopoulos. “I did really want Price, though. So I did hurry it along.”
- Keri cites a Blue Jays source in reporting that the Blue Jays nearly had a trade completed for the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, but talks fell apart just as the Jays thought they had something worked out. The Jays also checked in with the Phillies on Cole Hamels over the winter, in Spring Training, before the All-Star break and with 10 days to go before the trade deadline, Keri reports, but were repeatedly told that Hamels wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal to Toronto. Anthopoulos also aggressively pursued the Padres’ Tyson Ross, according to Keri’s source, though he gives no indication that anything was as close with Ross as it seemingly was with Carrasco.