Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos took a few days off after the season to unwind and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with his family.
When he returned to work and met with manager John Farrell, the expectation was they would discuss their plans for the offseason.
But Farrell had a different topic in mind: He wanted to manage the Red Sox.
“John expressed to me that he’d really like an opportunity to pursue that if it came about,” Anthopoulos said during a conference call on Sunday. “As John explained it to me, this was a dream job for him, an opportunity he really wanted to pursue.”
The Red Sox, who had fired Bobby Valentine a day after the season, had not yet requested permission of the Blue Jays to speak to Farrell. That came a few days later when John Henry called Toronto team president Paul Beeston.
Compensation talks occurred primarily at the ownership level, Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino speaking frequently with Beeston. The Blue Jays wanted a major league player in return and eventually agreed to take Mike Aviles.
But the discussions were not without some rancor.
“There was a lot of, to be completely candid, gamesmanship and a lot of things that went on from a negotiating standpoint. Not on our end, just a lot of things that were coming out that were completely false,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re pretty good in terms of not putting things out there in the media and leaking things or saying things. The upsetting part for me were how many false reports were out there that I didn’t think were fair to John or to myself or to the organization.”
Anthopoulos also is annoyed that the news was leaked to the Boston media late Saturday night. The deal, he said, was not approved by commissioner Bud Selig until Sunday.
“It probably didn’t go as smoothly as we think it could have,” Anthopolous said. “That’s just reality. … The fact that this even leaked last night, this was not a done deal last night. It was not supposed to happen that way. It was supposed to happen collectively today.”
Anthopolous said he doesn’t know Red Sox GM Ben Cherington well but believes him to be honest. He also said the ownership groups have mutual respect.
“Beyond that, I think there’s so many other potential people involved with ties. I wish I could tell you where a lot of this stuff came from,” he said. “I just thought it was unfortunate overall. … With a transaction like this, you’d love it to be a little more smooth. It just seemed like a lot of the things that came out didn’t come out from the Toronto media. It seemed like it came out of the Boston market.”
Anthopoulos said that once Terry Francona was fired by the Red Sox in 2011, it changed the situation for Farrell. He would not comment on whether the Red Sox requested permission to speak to Farrell a year ago. But he said the ouster of Francona created a “perfect storm of events” that led to Farrell leaving.
“I don’t think anybody could have expected that,” he said.
Anthopoulos respected Farrell for being honest with him.
“I understand the connection; I understand the ties,” he said. “John had been there a long time and had a lot of strong relationships there. Spent a lot of time in the city. It’s not completely foreign to me why there would be an appeal there and why there would be a desire on his part. This was the one job.
“That’s how he expressed it to me, this was the one job. There was no other city for him that was a perfect fit or a perfect opportunity. He was very candid.”
According to Anthopoulos, Farrell showed a good work ethic as manager.
“He stayed even-keeled,” Anthopoulos said. “Obviously he dealt with a lot of challenges across the board with the injuries this past year, changes in the roster. Very prepared, there’s no doubt about that as well. I can go on a lot of ways. … I wish John well and thank him for what he did. The work ethic did not waver.”
Anthopoulos said reports that the Blue Jays had an unsettled clubhouse were more a product of the team losing than anything related to Farrell.
— Anthopoulos said all of the Toronto coaches were free to speak to other teams. First base coach Torey Lovullo could be a candidate to come to Boston. He managed Triple A Pawtucket in 2010.
Lovullo told the Globe this afternoon that he has not agreed to anything with the Red Sox.
— RHP David Carpenter was going to be taken off the 40-man roster of the Blue Jays. So they were fine with trading him to the Red Sox.
“He was going to be available to any team for $20,000 either way,” Anthopoulos said. “From a procedural standpoint, there needed to be some kind of player going back in this transaction. Ultimately for us, it was someone who was going to come off the roster.”
— Anthopoulos said that “at a minimum” Mike Aviles will be a utility player for the Blue Jays and could compete to start at second base.