The Atlanta Braves are set to name Alex Anthopoulos as their new general manager — a masterstroke hire for an organization looking to climb out of offseason turmoil and rejoin Major League Baseball’s first class.
Landing the former Toronto Blue Jays general manager and current Dodgers vice president of baseball operations ends the search for John Coppolella’s replacement and installs long-term leadership in Atlanta, answering waves of offseason question marks surrounding the front office. The Braves are expected to announce the hire on Monday afternoon.
The news was first reported by New York Post columnist Joel Sherman and later confirmed by MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
Anthopoulos, 40, is expected to take over baseball operations with final say on personnel decisions, though John Hart will reportedly remain in his current role as president of baseball operations (albeit in title alone) for the time being.
Confirmed Alex Anthopoulos will be named Braves GM. Though he won’t have the title, Anthopoulos will also likely handle the president of baseball ops duties
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) November 13, 2017
Heard John Hart will stay as #Braves pres of basbeall operations for now, but as much as counsel/figurehead and that Anthopoulos will have final decision making powers in baseball.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 13, 2017
After working his way up through the Expos and Blue Jays’ front offices — literally climbing the ranks from the mail room to the board room — Anthopoulos, a Montreal native, served as Toronto’s general manager from 2009 to 2015, piecing together a roster that posted a 489-483 record in the competitive American League East. Anthopoulos was instrumental in acquiring the likes of 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki; the franchise also brought in José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación during his time as assistant GM to mentor J.P. Ricciardi.
A panel of 47 major-league executives tabbed him as Sporting News‘ Executive of the Year in 2015.
In October 2015, he declined the Blue Jays’ five-year contract extension and eventually landed in Los Angeles, where he helped build the 2017 National League champions while working under Andrew Friedman.
Though Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore, a John Schuerholz protégé, was linked to the GM vacancy from the very beginning, Atlanta was never granted a formal interview and Moore elected to not sever ties with the organization he led to the 2015 World Series title.
Anthopoulos steps into the position vacated by Coppolella, who resigned in early October amid MLB’s investigation in player acquisition practices both domestic and international. Hart and Coppolella built arguably the top farm system in baseball — a deep well of young talent, including consensus superstar outfield prospect Ronald Acuña, that made the job opening appealing for a wide range of candidates. Even with possible sanctions stemming from the MLB investigation pending, it’s unlikely a well-established name like Anthopoulos leaves his high-level position in Los Angeles without inheriting a wealth of talent (and front-office control).
Trading away Noah Syndergaard in the R.A. Dickey deal stands as his high-profile misstep on the trading block, but Anthopoulos has demonstrated the ability to identify amateur talent and build through the minors. During his time in Toronto, Baseball America tabbed the Blue Jays with a top-10 farm system four times — highlighting the likes of top prospects Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Kevin Pillar, Roberto Osuna, Daniel Norris and current minor-league standout Vladimir Guerrero Jr., among others. (Fun fact: Anthopoulos’ Blue Jays also drafted Kris Bryant and Aaron Nola out of high school, though the future big-leaguers did not sign with the organization.) Jonah Keri described Anthopoulos’ approach for Grantland back in 2013:
“His approach to collecting young talent is pragmatic, targeting the best talent regardless of whether they’re from the international, college, or high school pools. He trusts his scouts to make the best decisions on all those fronts, making one of his first moves as GM the expansion of the amateur scouting ranks, from 28 to 54. He routinely goes over slot for premium talent in the draft. He’ll re-sign some veteran stars (Jose Bautista for five years, $65 million) and trade others (Halladay for Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor). Any chance he gets, he tacks on club option years to long-term deals, giving the Jays potential bargain seasons for players who retain their effectiveness all the way through.”
Notable #Jays draft picks under Alex Anthopoulos:
2010: Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez, Kris Bryant (did not sign)
2011: Kevin Pillar, Aaron Nola (did not sign)
2012: Marcus Stroman
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) November 13, 2017
Atlanta owns a 207-278 record since hitting the reset button following the 2014 campaign. The franchise opened its new ballpark, SunTrust Park, last season and features a burgeoning major-league core centered around star first baseman Freddie Freeman and two-time Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte. Still, the franchise continues to search for its first playoff series win since 2001, a far cry from the organization’s mid-1990s heyday.
With top prospects Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Mike Foltynewicz, Luiz Gohara, Sean Newcomb and Max Fried already joining the parent club — and more top-100 names right around the corner with Acuña, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright and Austin Riley — rapid improvement is the ground-floor expectation as Alex Anthopoulos steps in.