It was clear that John Farrell wanted to spend his 30-minute press conference at the discussing the future in his first Winter Meetings appearance as Red Sox manager, but first he had to answer questions about his departure from Toronto.
Farrell was asked whether or not he would have stayed in Toronto had he known that the blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins which sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays, launching them from an organically grown, insular roster to a contending ball club. Farrell said:
Well, first of all, they've improved themselves overnight and we've got the utmost respect for them. We've got work to do to compete with them, but as it relates to leaving or not, I was asked on two different occasions if the Boston situation were to arise would I have interest, and on both times I said ‘yes'. That precipitated the move, so that wasn't about me orchestrating a departure out of Toronto, which I take from it a lot of great experiences, a lot of great memories, it's a great city, good fans, and they are a very good team.
Fans in Toronto have been critical of Farrell since his departure, and when asked if that's something that bothers him, Farrell said, "I think that's the nature of the game, and the nature of sports. When certain changes take place, I think that's also a strong indication of the passion that is there. Again, it was a great experience."
When pressed harder to discuss any conversations that took place between him and general manager Alex Anthopoulous, Farrell restated, "Again, I think every job in the major leagues is a dream job. It's not exclusive of one place. These are rare opportunities and my conversations with Alex are private and I have the utmost respect for Paul Beeston and Alex and the entire organization and I am thankful for the opportunity that was provided."
It's not surprising that Farrell has had to field so many questions about the situation in Toronto before he can address his plans for the Red Sox given that even at the time of his hiring there was concern that he might leave should the opportunity in Boston arise. While Blue Jays fans won't be quick to forgive Farrell who jumping ship mid-contract to return to Fenway Park, as Farrell said it's just a strong indication of the passion that's there -- and that's likely to continue, especially with the strong field of contenders in the AL East next season.