General manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell worked together closely the past two years plotting the fortunes of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays insist they are not worried about inside information being passed on to a bitter American League East rival now that Toronto has signed off on a trade that will allow Farrell to become the new manager of the Red Sox.
"We had already started to discuss staff, players, roster," Anthopoulos said when he found out about two weeks ago about Farrell's desire to realize his "dream job" in Boston. "We had already started talking about some of those things geared toward 2013.
"And even during the season we talked a lot about 2013 as well."
Anthopoulos wasn't specific about exactly what was discussed and he said he is not concerned that Boston will have valuable insights into Toronto's strategies moving forward now that Farrell has switched camps.
"I'm not concerned at all," Anthopoulos said. "Again … obviously John knows all our players and so on. In terms of off-season plans there's no way to know in the month of August or September exactly who is going to be available in trade. Free agent-wise I think everybody knows who's out there, so there's no surprises there."
Anthopoulos said that until players officially elect for free agency and clubs start to have talks with agents, there isn't really anything to pass on in terms of top-secret information.
"And the other component is, not every team has the same needs," Anthopoulos said. "The Red Sox, for example, might have a need at shortstop, and we're pretty deep there.
"So we're not necessarily shopping from the same aisle."
The Blue Jays agreed to forego the final year in Farrell's contract and traded him to the Red Sox, along with pitcher David Carpenter, in exchange for utility infield Mike Aviles.
Farrell will be officially welcomed as the new Red Sox manager on Tuesday in Boston. And the search has started in Toronto for the next manager.
"I expect it to be a significantly faster process than last time," Anthopoulos said. "I think having gone through it once and having gone through the experience I can cut out a lot of steps and hopefully we'll be able to move fast."
Anthopoulos said there are no "front-runners" for the job, but one name that keeps on cropping up is Sandy Alomar Jr., the bench coach of the Cleveland Indians who was a finalist for the Toronto job two years ago.
DeMarlo Hale, the Baltimore Orioles third base coach who was also interviewed for the Toronto job in 2010, is another possibility.
The Blue Jays could have a ready-made candidate in-house in Don Wakamatsu, the team's bench coach who was a former manager in Seattle with the Mariners. Current third base coach Brian Butterfield is another option, as is first base coach Torey Lovullo.
Anthopoulos said after having recently gone through this search process he can be a little more specific when it comes to what he will be looking for in a new managing hire.
"It's probably like when you buy your first house, you go in and you look for certain things," he said. "And after you've lived in the house for a while you realize that the next time, if there is one, you know you'd like to have X and X and X. And that's probably the position we're going to be in. I can be a little more specific and know exactly what's going to be the exact fit for us."
Asked to expand on what qualities he would like in a new manager, Anthopoulos wouldn't elaborate, saying he needs time to sit back and collect his thoughts.
After a terrific spring training, in which the Blue Jays led all teams with a 24-7 record, the regular season was a major disappointment with Toronto stumbling to a 73-89 mark and a fourth-place finish in the AL East.
Anthopoulos said he learned one valuable lesson in an injury-filled season – not having to rely so heavily on younger players.
"And if that means they have to stay down in the minors a little bit longer and wait their turn, I don't have a problem with doing that," he said.
"Definitely have focused more about not relying so much on young players," he said.