The manager of the Blue Jays, John Farrell, served as the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox for four seasons before taking his current post in Toronto. Despite the team’s ERA increasing in each year of his service for the club, he is most associated with the World Series winning team of 2007, a little bit less associated with the ALCS losing team of 2008, only mildly associated with the ALDS losing team of 2009, and not really associated at all with the 2010 incarnation of the Boston Red Sox that missed the playoffs.
After unceremoniously ridding themselves of Terry Francona following the disastrous late season tumble of 2011, rumors began spreading of the Red Sox interest in bringing back the prodigal son who left the team only twelve months early to take the helm of the Blue Jays. Of course, Boston eventually settled on Bobby Valentine as their manager, but according to Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe, that didn’t happen until after the Red Sox and Toronto failed to negotiate a deal that allowed for what the Boston media would’ve without a doubt referred to as Farrell’s homecoming.
According to a major league source, there were “informal” conversations about Farrell last season at the general manager level — Theo Epstein-Alex Anthopoulos — and after Epstein left to become president of baseball operations with the Cubs, Sox ownership and Ben Cherington made a formal attempt to see if Toronto would allow Farrell to leave.
Toronto was willing to listen, but the sides never could agree on compensation. The Blue Jays, obviously, wanted a lot to allow their manager to leave for a division rival.
Ahead of the Blue Jays weekend series in Boston, it seems that what was old is new again, as rumors have popped up suggesting that the Red Sox will make Farell their number one choice to replace Bobby Valentine this off season. The same difficulties that the organization was presented with last off season will again be present this winter as the current Blue Jays manager remains signed to the team through the 2013 season.
If Boston is successful in prying away their division rival’s manager, it’s not clear what type of compensation they’ll have to pay. The Miami Marlins sent two top ten prospects from their somewhat weak system to the Chicago White Sox for manager Ozzie Guillen (as well as right-handed pitcher Ricardo Andres) after last season in Jhan Marinez and Osvaldo Martinez. However, those two teams are in separate leagues and don’t face the prospect of facing each other up to eighteen times a season.
As we’ve all noted on several different occasions, it’s rather difficult to properly quantify a manager’s value to a team, as a large portion of it is found in intangible actions. Even looking at in-game strategy only reveals a small portion of the overall picture, and I don’t think it’s something that any one can properly piece together.
However, perhaps because of our collective ignorance as to specific value, I lean toward believing individual players to be of an astoundingly higher value than any one manager. So, from the Blue Jays perspective, while in terms of optics, it may be demoralizing to a fan base that doesn’t know better, the team should be grateful for the opportunity to receive a player or two in exchange for a manager. The fact that said manager is wanted by a division rival gives the Toronto club even more of an advantage when it comes to negotiations.