LOS ANGELES -- New Dodgers vice president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos just started at his new position on Monday, two months after walking away from the Blue Jays after 13 years in the organization. His choice of Los Angeles for his new endeavor had a lot to do with a pair of old adversaries in place.
"The Los Angeles Dodgers are obviously one of the premiere organizations in the game, but the people that work here are the main draw," Anthopoulos said via conference call on Tuesday. "The ability to work with Andrew [Friedman], Farhan [Zaidi] and Josh [Byrnes] and everyone that's here."
Anthopoulos was the general manager in Toronto since 2010, in the same division with Friedman as general manager with the Rays for five years. Before Anthopoulos became GM, he was assistant general manager, and got to know fellow assistant GM Zaidi in Oakland.
Those three are within a year of each other in age. Anthopoulos turns 39 in May.
Zaidi was so highly thought of that Anthopoulos tried to him in Toronto two different times, but general manager Billy Beane wouldn't grant permission for essentially a lateral move for Zaidi.
"[Beane] wanted to hang on to him, and rightfully so," Anthopoulos recalled. "[Zaidi] was a really valuable employee."
After six years as GM in Toronto, Anthopoulos walked away from a different collaboration, one with incoming president Mark Shapiro, former Indians general manager. While Anthopoulos had no ill will toward his time in Toronto, he also said he had no regrets whatsoever about his decision to leave Toronto.
It is Friedman and Zaidi with whom Anthopoulos will work with directly most often, in various aspects of baseball operations.
"You surround yourself with people who are really smart and really accomplished, you can get better," Anthopoulos said. "And with my experience and what I've been through, I expect to be able to help out as well."
The most common question regarding the growing Dodgers front office is just how many chiefs is too many? There are technically seven current or former GMs in the Dodgers front office, but that counts advisors Gerry Hunsicker and Ned Colletti as well as 88-year-old Tom Lasorda, whose time as interim GM included trading Paul Konerko for Jeff Shaw.
The four general managers most often involved in the decision-making process — four is still a lot of former GMs to have around, by the way — are Friedman, the president of baseball operations; Zaidi, the general manager; Byrnes, the senior vice president of baseball operations; and now Anthopoulos, the vice president of baseball operations. Anthopoulous gave a glimpse into the hierarchy within.
"I don't view it as having a title. I look at it as talented baseball guys who are here, and that's part of the appeal. All these guys come from different backgrounds and experiences," Anthopoulos explained. "You always want to keep getting better, and the great thing about this game is that you can always get better. You'll make mistakes, but you continue to evolve.
"Ultimately Andrew does have the final say, which is the way it should be. But he's someone who values input and there is great collaboration on that end. I respect those guys so much. It's really exciting for me because I do think it's a great fit, and I think I'm going to improve myself being with them day in and day out.
"Anytime you take executives from other clubs, you're not all going to look at the world the same way. You put them all together, we can consolidate our ideas and thoughts. Hopefully it results in wins."
Anthopoulos will be based out of Los Angeles, working in the office with Friedman and Zaidi in person and directly a distinction he felt was important, and a luxury he didn't always have as GM of the Blue Jays.
"We didn't have everyone that lived in Toronto," he explained. "It felt like we never had enough time of the day to get things done. You're also talking about a large-market club [in the Dodgers] that can play in any field or any market. There isn't anything that these guys can't do or can't get involved in.
Anthopoulos said his original plan was, wherever his new MLB job was, to work out of his home in Toronto, but with the Dodgers' opportunity he chose to move his wife and kids out to California.
Now it's just a matter of how long the Dodgers can keep him.
"There's a totally different level of involvement when you're there day in and day out. I do feel like I have an opportunity to be here for a long time," Anthopoulos said. "That doesn't mean that if a general manager opportunity presented itself that I wouldn't explore that, and we talked about that as well.
"I didn't want to jump around. I'm not someone who does that. I commit to somewhere and give everything I have, and am immersed in whatever I do. That was reflected in sitting down with my wife and family, and deciding to make California home.
"I wouldn't move my family out here if I felt it was going to be a quick stay."