Alex Anthopoulos | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Alex Anthopoulos

Alex Anthopoulos, baseball executive (born 25 May 1977 in Montreal, QC). Alex Anthopoulos is the president of baseball operations and general manager for the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously worked for the Montreal Expos and the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager from 2010 to 2015. In his last season with the Blue Jays, Anthopoulos was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year. Since he joined the Braves in 2017, the team has won four consecutive division titles, as well as the World Series in 2021. Anthopoulos is one of only six Canadians to serve as an MLB general manager. He is the first to win a World Series.

Early Years and Education

Alex Anthopoulos was born in Montreal, Quebec. His father, John Anthopoulos, was a Greek immigrant who earned a degree in engineering from McGill University and ran his own heating and ventilation company. Anthopoulos frequently went to Montreal Expos games at Olympic Stadium, where he became passionate about baseball.

Anthopoulos studied at Lower Canada College in Montreal and at Marianopolis College in Westmount before earning a degree in economics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. During his time at McMaster, Anthopoulos spent the summers working at his father’s company, which he planned to do full-time after he graduated. However, his father’s death in May 1998 changed his plans. Anthopoulos and his brothers took over the company but sold it two years later.

Montreal Expos (2000–03)

Anthopoulos then decided to follow his passion and pursue a career in baseball. After contacting every MLB team for any available position, he finally landed an unpaid internship with the Montreal Expos. He managed the players’ fan mail during the day and picked the brains of scouts at night.

Anthopoulos then earned another non-paying internship scouting for the Expos in Florida. Dana Brown, the team’s scouting director, lobbied for Anthopoulos to get his first real shot. He was promoted to scouting coordinator and was responsible for scouting all of Canada for the Expos. Anthopoulos worked as the assistant scouting director until he left the organization at the end of the 2003 season. (The Expos shut down operations in Montreal after the 2004 season and relocated to Washington, D.C.)

Toronto Blue Jays (2003–15)

In 2003, Anthopoulos began working as the scouting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays. Two years later, he was promoted to assistant general manager. During his tenure as assistant GM, the Blue Jays acquired José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación, two unheralded players who became superstars in Toronto.

On 4 October 2009, the Blue Jays hired Anthopoulos to replace the recently fired J.P. Ricciardi as general manager. Just three months into his new role as GM, Anthopoulos executed one of the biggest trades in Blue Jays’ history, sending future Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis d’Arnaud.

In 2010, Anthopoulos’s first full season as GM, the Blue Jays finished with a record of 85–77, good for only fourth place in the American League (AL) East division. The Jays hit a franchise-record 257 home runs, the third highest single-season total in MLB history to that date. José Bautista also broke George Bell’s franchise record (47) with 54 home runs, the most in MLB that season. In 2011, Anthopoulos singed Bautista to a team-friendly five-year contract extension worth $64 million. However, the Blue Jays again finished fourth in the AL East with a record of 81–81.

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The Blue Jays’ 2012 season was plagued by injuries. The team lost three starting pitchers in four days. Bautista also missed many games due to injury. The Jays finished last in the AL East with a record of 73–89.

Before the 2013 season started, Anthopoulos acquired National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and all-star shortstop Jose Reyes in a blockbuster three-team trade. However, Dickey and Reyes both faded in their time with Toronto, while the centrepiece Anthopoulos sent to the New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard, blossomed into a star. Going into the 2013 season, the Jays were seen by many as World Series favourites. But a lacklustre start, followed by a disastrous July and August in which they went 22–33, sank their chances and resulted in a last-place finish with a 74–88 record.

In 2014, the Blue Jays finished third in their division with an 83–79 record, but they still fell short of a playoff berth. After the team largely stood pat at the trade deadline due to budget constraints, Bautista publicly criticized Anthopoulos for not doing enough to turn a good team into a playoff contender. During the off-season, Anthopoulos attempted to rectify that by landing two star players. He traded Canadian Brett Lawrie and three prospects to the Oakland Athletics for third-baseman Josh Donaldson, and he signed Canadian catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract. When the team was still hovering around.500 at the trade deadline at the end of July, Anthopoulos went all-in, acquiring all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitching ace David Price, among others. The Blue Jays went 40–18 after the trade deadline and finished the season with a record of 93–69, good for their first division title and playoff appearance since 1993. One of the most memorable playoff runs in MLB history concluded with a 4–2 series loss to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

On 29 October 2015, Anthopoulos declined a five-year contract extension from the Blue Jays. That same day, he was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year by a panel of 47 MLB executives. The Blue Jays’ record during Anthopoulos’s tenure as general manager was 489–483.

Los Angeles Dodgers (2016–17)

Anthopoulos then accepted a job with the Los Angeles Dodgers as vice president of baseball operations. He worked under general manager and fellow Canadian Farhan Zaidi. Anthopoulos spent the 2016 and 2017 season with the Dodgers.

Atlanta Braves (2017–Present)

On 13 November 2017, Anthopoulos joined the Atlanta Braves as executive vice president and general manager. The team was still reeling from a cheating scandal that resulted in the club being stripped of 13 prospects due to multiple violations of MLB’s international signing rules. The Braves fired most of its front office, including GM John Coppolella, who was subsequently banned from MLB for life. Anthopoulos was brought in to get the organization back on track. As Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk said at the time, “Alex is a man of integrity, and he will operate in a way that will make all of our Braves fans proud.”

Following four consecutive seasons of sub-.500 records, the Braves had amassed the top-ranked farm system in baseball. It featured seven top 100 prospects, including the No. 1 overall prospect, outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., and starting pitcher Mike Soroka of Calgary, Alberta. During Anthopoulos’s first season with the Braves, the team won its first division title since 2013 with a record of 90–72. The Braves lost 3–1 to the Dodgers in the NLDS, but Acuña Jr. was named Rookie of the Year and Soroka made a strong debut.

Heading into the 2019 season, Anthopoulos bulked up the lineup by signing veteran backup catcher Brian McCann and former Toronto Blue Jay Josh Donaldson to one-year deals. He also scored a major coup by signing Acuña Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies to long-term extensions that were both well below market value. Both players went on to win Silver Slugger awards at their positions that year. Atlanta improved to a 97–65 record and again won their division, but lost in the NLDS 3–2 to the St. Louis Cardinals.

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In February 2020, Anthopoulos was promoted to president of baseball operations and general manager. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Braves had another banner year, going 35–25 on their way to a third consecutive division title. First-baseman Freddie Freeman was named National League MVP. The Braves made it all the way to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Dodgers. They led the series 3–1 before Los Angeles made a comeback, beating the Braves by one run in each of the last two games to advance to the World Series.

The Braves’ 2021 season was marked by significant setbacks. Staff ace Mike Soroka missed the entire season with a re-torn Achilles tendon. Slugger Marcell Ozuna was suspended for 20 games after being arrested on 29 May for assaulting his wife. And after posting a.990 OPS through 82 games, Acuña Jr. was sidelined for the season by a torn ACL in his right knee. At the end of July, the Braves were second in their division with a middling 52–54 record. But a strong run differential and another MVP-calibre season from Freeman, combined with a relatively weak division, once again led Anthopoulos to go all-in at the trade deadline. After acquiring outfielder Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs two weeks earlier, Anthopoulos completely rebuilt the team’s outfield by adding Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall and Jorge Soler.

After the deadline, the Braves went 36–19 to win their fourth consecutive division title with a record of 88–73. In the playoffs, Rosario hit a remarkable.560/.607/1.040 against the Dodgers in the NLCS to be named series MVP, while Soler hit.300/.391/.800 against the Houston Astros to be named World Series MVP. The Braves defeated the Astros four games to two for their fourth World Series championship and first since 1995. Anthopoulos became the first Canadian general manager in MLB history to win a World Series.

Personal Life

Anthopoulos is fluent in English and French and speaks some Spanish and Greek. He and his wife Cristina have two children, a daughter named Julia and a son named John. A proud Greek Canadian, Anthopoulos worked with the Greek national baseball team during the 2003 European Championships. He also helped them assemble a team for the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens.

See also Baseball in Canada; Canada’s Forgotten Baseball History; Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.