"I never would have guessed this could happen," he said at a news conference.
Gibbons managed Toronto 2004-2008 and had a 305-305 record, making him the third winningest manager in franchise history.
He succeeds John Farrell, who spurned Toronto for his dream managing job in Boston. Gibbons, however, takes over a very different team from the one Farrell managed.
The surprise announcement came a day after the Blue Jays completed a mega deal in which they acquired All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami. Toronto agreed to the trade last week and Commissioner Bud Selig approved it Monday. The Blue Jays, extraordinarily busy in this offseason, also announced the signing of free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.
"Who wouldn't want to be here?" Gibbons said. "The front office has put together a legitimate contending type team."
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos had said he wanted someone who was familiar with the organization and city. Anthopolous was an assistant GM when Gibbons managed Toronto. Gibbons joins Cito Gaston as managers serving two stints with the Blue Jays.
His best season was in 2006, when Toronto went 87-75 to finish second in the division -- the same season he had a well-publicized blowup with players Shea Hillenbrand and Ted Lilly.
Gibbons most recently managed the San Antonio Missions of the Class AA Texas League in the San Diego Padres' organization last season. He also had three seasons as the Kansas City Royals' bench coach.
Gibbons joined the Blue Jays' coaching staff in 2002 as a bullpen catcher and was promoted midseason to first-base coach. He served in that capacity until replacing Carlos Tosca in 2004. Before joining the Blue Jays the first time, Gibbons spent 11 seasons working with the New York Mets.
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