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 theformer Toronto Blue Jays general manager and current Dodgers vice president of baseball operations endsthe search for John Coppolella's replacement and installs long-term leadership in Atlanta, answering waves of offseason question marks surroundingthe front office. The Braves are expected toannounce the hire on Monday afternoon.
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.
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 managerfrom 2009 to 2015,piecing together a roster that posted a489-483 record in the competitive American League East.Anthopoulos was instrumental inacquiring the likes of 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki; the franchise also brought in Jos Bautista and Edwin Encarnacin 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 protg, 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 Acua, that made the job opening appealing for a wide range of candidates. Even with possiblesanctionsstemming from the MLB investigation pending, it's unlikely a well-established name likeAnthopoulos leaves his high-level position inLos Angeles without inheriting a wealth of talent (and front-office control).
Trading away Noah Syndergaard in the R.A. Dickey deal stands ashishigh-profile misstep on the trading block, butAnthopoulos 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 standoutVladimir Guerrero Jr., among others. (Fun fact: Anthopoulos'Blue Jays also drafted Kris Bryant and Aaron Nola out of high school, though the future big-leaguersdid not sign with the organization.) Jonah Keri described Anthopoulos' approach for Grantland back in 2013:
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 forits 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 andmore top-100 names right around the corner with Acua, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright and Austin Riley rapid improvement is the ground-floor expectation as AlexAnthopoulos steps in.