ATLANTA — With the franchise in a state of disarray, the Atlanta Braves have taken the first step toward putting their house in order. Longtime Blue Jays executive Alex Anthopoulos will be named the new general manager of the Braves according to multiple reports late Sunday night.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com was first to report the possibility of Anthopoulos taking Atlanta’s vacant general manager position. Joel Sherman of the New York Post later confirmed the news. An official announcement is expected to take place Monday according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic.
The impending arrival of Anthopoulos follows nearly two months in which the Braves have been under investigation by Major League Baseball for alleged infractions in both the international market and the amateur draft. As a result, general manager John Coppolella and international scouting director Gordon Blakeley were forced to resign immediately following the regular season.
Now Atlanta finds itself in need of stability and proven leadership, two things Anthopoulos can provide as the club rebuilds its front office. The team is still awaiting the findings of the league’s investigation, with sanctions expected to follow. Those could include loss of players, loss of future draft picks, an international spending ban and a substantial fine.
According to Sherman, Anthopoulos will have final say on all player personnel decisions, with Bowman adding that he will essentially serve as the club’s de facto president of baseball operations. That is a title currently held by John Hart, who is under contract with Atlanta until the end of the year. Hart will reportedly remain in an advisory capacity for the time being.
Anthopoulos, 40, is a Montreal native who began his baseball career as an intern in the Expos organization in 2000. He joined the Blue Jays front office as a scouting coordinator in 2003 and worked his way up to general manager within six years. He was Toronto’s GM from October 2009 to October 2015, but turned down a five-year extension shortly after the arrival of current Blue Jays team president Mark Shapiro. Anthopoulos was named the Sporting News’ Executive of the Year for 2015 and went on to join the Dodgers as vice president of baseball operations in 2016. He has held that post for the past two years.
The Blue Jays rose back to prominence in the AL East thanks to a powerful offense. Both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista were acquired in 2009, just before Anthopoulos – an assistant to then-GM J.P. Ricciardi – took the reigns as general manager. Anthopoulos later traded for Oakland slugger Josh Donaldson, who immediately won the 2015 AL MVP Award as Toronto played deep into October. Anthopoulos has shown the ability to be creative within payroll limitations and build from within while maintaining an active approach in both trades and the free agent market.
Like any GM, his trade history contains both hits and misses. While the Donaldson trade turned out to be one of the best this decade, Anthopoulos also acquired veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from the Mets in 2012 in exchange for a package that included top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. However, his trades for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki helped Toronto reach the ALCS in 2015, where they were eliminated by the eventual world champion Kansas City Royals.
The Blue Jays built a solid farm system which was used to supplement the major league roster and in trades. Along with Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Devin Travis, Adeiny Hechavarria and Travis d’Arnaud are all seasoned big leaguers who were acquired under Anthopoulos’ watch in Toronto. He inherits a Braves farm system that is loaded with talent with which to build and shape the future of the franchise.
Atlanta was rebuffed in its attempts to lure Royals GM Dayton Moore back to the franchise he began his career with. Kansas City owner David Glass denied the Braves permission to interview Moore. He would likely have been positioned as the club’s new president of baseball operations, a mantle that Anthopoulos could take up sooner than later.