TORONTO — Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos had interviewed 18 candidates for the manager’s job and still couldn’t make up his mind.
“I think I drove my wife crazy,” he said Monday.
In the end, Anthopoulos picked the person he’d felt a bond with right from the start: Boston Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell.
Farrell was chosen to succeed Cito Gaston, who retired after the season ended. It will be Farrell’s first managerial job.
“It’s one heck of a unique and exciting opportunity,” Farrell said.
Anthopoulos declined to reveal the length of Farrell’s contract or other terms of the agreement.
Pitching coach Bruce Walton and third base coach Brian Butterfield, a finalist to replace Gaston, will both return next season, Farrell said. Butterfield is an Orono native and former Red Riots’ standout athlete. The remaining members of Gaston’s staff will be contacted about their willingness to come back.
“We’re working through that on a case-by-case basis,” Farrell said.
Anthopoulos said he felt “an immediate connection” with Farrell in their first interview, a wide-ranging, 3-hour discussion.
“John’s the type who strikes me, getting to know him more and more, he’s not going to rest, he’s never going to be satisfied,” Anthopoulos said. “Any weakness he might have, I think he’s going to correct it pretty fast. He’s going to work extremely hard to correct it.”
The 48-year-old Farrell also felt a bond with the young Blue Jays GM.
“As Alex mentioned of the connection, that was felt on this side as well,” he said. “Going through this interview process it became very clear the direction that this organization is heading, the resources that are available to support a club that is going to compete and compare with New York and Boston in time. Those were all clear selling points to me.”
Anthopoulos and Farrell spoke twice more after that initial interview, and Farrell spent time with several other front office staffers, before being offered the job Friday. He agreed to a deal later that evening.
Discussions have already taken place with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy, who helped the Blue Jays hit a major league-leading 257 home runs this season, a team record.
Farrell was Cleveland’s player development director for five years and Boston’s pitching coach the past four seasons.
Farrell spent eight seasons pitching in the majors, winning a career-high 14 games for the Indians in 1988, before retiring after the 1996 season. He spent five years as assistant coach/pitching and recruiting co-ordinator at his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, then returned to the Indians in 2001.
He moved to the Red Sox in 2007, working with young starters Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. That background made him an attractive candidate for the Blue Jays, whose young rotation includes promising left-handers Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero as well as right-handers Shaun Marcum and Brandon Morrow. All four won 10 or more games last season.