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Toronto Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Beeston, right, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos talk as they watch the Blue Jays during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.

Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Now that general manager Alex Anthopoulos is departing the Toronto Blue Jays for reasons he has chosen to keep to himself, it is probably a safe bet that manager John Gibbons is not far behind.

It is the way the sports world works.

A new sheriff comes to town – in this case Mark Shapiro, formerly of the Cleveland Indians, who will begin his new role as the Blue Jays president and chief executive officer on Monday – and the dominoes of change inevitably begin to tumble.

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Even after making the moves that would ultimately ensure the Blue Jays enjoyed their most successful season in 22 years, it was not enough to keep Anthopoulos satisfied that he could continue on the job with a new boss peering over his shoulder.

And so on a day that he was chosen by his major-league peers as baseball's executive of the year, Anthopoulos – who insists he does not have another job offer on the table – confirms he rejected a five-year contract extension from the Blue Jays and will depart the organization after six seasons running the show.

"It was Mark's desire and his intention to have me stay on," Anthopoulos said during a telephone conference call on Thursday. "I won't speak for him, but he certainly expressed that to me repeatedly. And I'm extremely grateful for that. It was [club owner] Rogers Communications' desire for me to stay on and it was their every intention to get that to happen. And it was mine as well. I had every intention and desire to stay on.

"But ultimately I had a decision to make. And I own this decision. This is my responsibility and it falls on me."

And that decision was to leave, despite the offer of a multiyear deal from Rogers that, while not specified, would obviously be well compensated. It was never about the term or the money, Anthopoulos insisted.

What it was really about, Anthopoulos refuses to say.

"I just think there's certain things that should remain private and behind closed doors," he said. "And I know sometimes that's hard to hear and hard to understand. I just think it's the right thing for the organization and the ball club and everybody involved."

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Shapiro was hired in August to replace Paul Beeston, the club's current president and CEO, who announced at the start of this season that it would be his last. A Day 1 employee, Beeston's last day on the job will be Friday.

Shapiro has yet to say what his future plans are for the Blue Jays, a discussion he said he did not feel appropriate having until he actually started in his new position. That will be Monday.

The talk around the water cooler is that Anthopoulos wanted the same job and responsibility that he had under Beeston, who hired him as GM. That was having the ultimate say in all baseball-related decisions.

The hiring of Shapiro, a former major-league GM, skewed that, with the belief that Anthopoulos, if he returned to the GM's job, would not enjoy the same autonomy that he enjoyed under Beeston.

Anthopoulos was asked if this was a fair conclusion for some to draw.

"Again, I would never get into specifics, but I never requested anything. I've never asked for anything," Anthopoulos said. "I think that needs to be made clear.

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"I think, like anything, I evaluate things, I had great discussions with all parties involved. I think I respect all parties involved as well. And after having some discussions I approached the ball club … and just said, 'Look, I don't think this is the right fit for me.' It didn't come with any caveats or things like that."

Which leads us to Gibbons, who was picked by Anthopoulos three years ago to manage the Blue Jays for a second term after being fired in June of 2008.

Despite leading the Blue Jays to first place in the American League East and a first-round playoff victory over the Texas Rangers before falling to the Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series, his job is felt to now be on the line with Anthopoulos leaving.

Asked on Thursday for an interview about the Toronto developments, Gibbons responded with a quick "nope" via a text message.

Gibbons, through a vesting option, already has his contract for next season ensured. If he is still the team's manager at the start of 2016, his contract for 2017 automatically clicks in.

So if Shapiro has any intention to replace the manager, it will have to be decided relatively quickly.

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"You guys know how I feel about John Gibbons," Anthopoulos said. "I think overall he's done a tremendous job. But I just don't think it's my place to comment any further than that."

It is interesting to note that Terry Francona, the highly regarded Cleveland manager, was lured to that job in the first place for the start of the 2013 season in a large part by the presence of Shapiro.

Francona had an opt-out clause written into his contract, so that he could leave the Indians in the event that Shapiro left.

When the rumours started circulating in late August that Shapiro was Toronto-bound, Francona was asked if he might trigger his out clause and follow him to the Blue Jays.

"I have no intention of ever using something like that as leverage for another job, because I don't want to," he said back then.

However, with the Blue Jays making their spirited run into the playoffs and their future looking bright with most of their core players under team control, minds may have changed.

It is not an ideal time for the Blue Jays to be heading into the off-season without a GM in place.

Free agency will begin shortly after the conclusion of the World Series and the club has several major personnel decisions to make. Prime among them is whether to pick up the options on the contracts of slugger Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion along with pitcher R.A. Dickey.

Pitcher Marco Estrada, who was arguably Toronto's best performer during the Blue Jays' playoff run, can head into free agency unless he is resigned.

And now Anthopoulos is walking away from the club even while his former employer continues to sing his praises.

"Alex has done a terrific job as GM of the Blue Jays over the past six seasons, and we would have loved it if he stayed with the club," Edward Rogers, chairman of the Blue Jays, said in a release. "Like the fans, we, too, are disappointed he has chosen not to accept our five-year contract offer, but we wish him the very best.

"Alex leaves behind an outstanding front-office team and coaching staff that played a key role in shaping the team's great run this season. They will continue to operate in leadership roles next year as we look to build upon the team's success. We remain committed to putting a winning team on the field and look forward to many more exciting seasons for the Blue Jays."

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