Anthopoulos joins pals Friedman, Zaidi with Dodgers

By Bob Elliott
They could be spotted as a foursome at the winter meetings or General Manager’s meetings.

Except they never golfed no matter what golf course the resort was located.

They’d gather at the end of the day for a sandwich, solve the world’s problems, the holes in their respective teams and come up with three-team trade suggestions.

Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and J.P. Ricciardi, then the GM of the Blue Jays, often met. Beane would bring his assistant GM Farhan Zaidi while Ricciardi brought his assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos from 2003-09.

And if we are to believe Quebec City’s Vince Cauchon -- and why would we not believe a football reporter on the subject of baseball who works at radio station named Radio X et Rock -- former Jays GM Anthopoulos is headed for the coast and the crowded Los Angeles Dodgers front office where even the administrative aides are former GMs.

After all Wednesday is the day Tim (Rock) Raines may or may not get his ticket punched to Cooperstown, so why not believe Radio X et Rock? Late Tuesday it was confirmed that CHOI 98.1 Radio X et Rock is the station to listen to for any Blue Jays news: the Dodgers were hiring Anthopoulos.

Anthopoulos could not be reached for comment.

Due to playing each other 19 times each year Anthopoulos was already close friends with then Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman, now the Dodgers president.

When Anthopoulos turned down a five-year offer from Edward Rogers of Rogers Communications -- the initial offer was from new president Mark Shapiro -- and decided staying with the Jays was not “the right fit for him” the Dodgers were everyone’s first guess as a future destination. 

Shapiro, former Cleveland Indians boss, then conducted what he termed “an exhaustive search” before hiring Ross Atkins away from Cleveland. 

Shapiro interviewed Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, who held the position of interim GM before Atkins arrived, Amiel Sawdaye, Boston Red Sox scouting director; Rene Francisco, assistant GM of the Kansas City Royals; LaCava and Atkins? None had experience as GM of a major league team.

There was an offer of work to Anthopoulos from TSN. They would have had to given him a show twice as long as any one else’s because he’d use half the show to say good morning (afternoon or night) and welcome his guest.

There was talk about him heading to other teams like the Atlanta Braves and the Rays, as well as Steve Simmons’ report that the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes were interested.

All along the Dodgers made the most sense.

Friendships and familiarities between Friedman and Zaidi made the Dodgers the obvious choice.

On staff at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgder have Vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes, nine years as GM with the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, Friedman GM with the Rays for 10 years and this is his second year with the Dodgers, former GM Ned Colletti, who spent 10 years running the Dodgers, Tommy LaSorda, who served as interim GM in 1998, Colletti’s assistant Ellen Harrigan used to be the GM of class-A St. Catharines when the Jays owned the New York Penn League team and Anthoupolos.

During the World Series there had been talk of basically a 1-for-1 switch of offices: Anthopoulos to the Dodgers and Byrnes to the Jays, as he has a Cleveland background too. But that was before Atkins was hired.

A Montreal native, Anthopoulos, was with the Jays from 2003 to 2015, the final six as GM, including breaking the 22-year playoff drought

It’s uncertain what duties the Dodgers will have in store for Anthopoulos.

The Jays won the American League East, while the Dodgers won the National League West. The Dodgers have let go over 40 scouts and people who work in player development.

Speculation is Anthopoulos, voted executive of the year by his peers in October, will be a sought-after free-agent come the end of the 2016 season when a team goes looking to make a change at the top.