With the recent hiring of David Stearns and the firing of Chaim Bloom, there is no better time than the present to look at prime candidates for top front-office postings in Major League Baseball.
The White Sox have already fired Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn to hire Chris Getz, their top lieutenant, to replace them. Meanwhile, the Mets unofficially brought David Stearns in to be their first-ever President of Baseball Operations, but they may still be on the lookout for a top-tier assistant. The interesting part is that while Billy Eppler is staying on as GM, many see him as more of a liaison to Steve Cohen than a true personnel guy. Therefore, it would be far from surprising to see the Mets bring in another top baseball guy to fill the role of Stearns’s top assistant.
The Red Sox somewhat surprisingly moved on from Chaim Bloom who, while unliked by many Red Sox fans, is extremely well-regarded and has not done a bad job considering his circumstances. They will be looking for someone to run their baseball operations, which may include both a general manager (GM) and president of baseball operations (PoBO).
The Nationals signed their head of baseball ops, Mike Rizzo, to a long-term extension and the Tigers hired Jeff Greenberg last week as their new GM. Greenberg will work under Scott Harris.
There are a few other possible openings to consider. The first and least likely is a change at the top of the Oakland Athletics’ organization. Billy Beane is the second-longest-tenured head of baseball operations and there have been annual rumblings about his eventual retirement. That being said, David Forst, his longtime assistant and current GM, is the heir apparent and there is little reason to think he won’t replace Beane. Secondly, Beane has long been considered instrumental in organizing a move to a new venue, be it in Oakland or Las Vegas, and he may decide to step back or stay on until the A’s can officially call Nevada their new home.
The Yankees and Brian Cashman, the longest-tenured GM in the sport, are also interesting cases. Cashman has been the Yankees’ GM since 1998 and has been with the team since 1986. He served as George Steinbrenner’s right-hand man for years, but it may be time for Hal Steinbrenner to hand-select his crony. The Yankees could use a fresh start in a few regards, yet moving on from Cashman, one of the brightest minds in the game, is not an easy decision. Cashman would immediately become the top name available in the industry; no one has had as much success and experience and he’s still only 56 years old. Cashman has been a GM for almost half of his life.
The Padres are the main team of interest concerning potential house-cleaning. A.J. Preller has already been in San Diego for nine years, and although he has increased the Padres’ payroll to big market levels, the success has not followed. The Padres have had only two playoff appearances and two winning seasons during Preller’s tenure. Yet, the Padres have grossly underperformed their Pythagorean win% and it is fair to blame Preller for the lack of results this season. Additionally, the Padres have ranked among the top five clubs in attendance over the past two seasons and have assuredly been experiencing a similar increase in revenue. Therefore, this is a situation that bears watching closely. Whether the Padres decide to make wholesale changes, just replace Bob Melvin or Preller, or bring in someone like Jon Daniels, the Padres will be making winter exciting yet again.
The Astros are another team who may, like the Mets, decide to bring in someone as PoBO, adding a lieutenant above Dana Brown, their current GM. Under Jim Crane’s ownership, the Astros have won two World Series with two different GMs but failed to clinch their division until the final game of the season. It is hard to say who is running baseball operations in Houston. The move to bring back Justin Verlander while trading away their two best prospects is a highly questionable move, yet I do not think that decision was made by Brown.
The Rockies have been toiling in relative mediocrity for years and have refused to bring in external baseball operations people since hiring Dan O’Dowd from the Indians in 1999. The team promoted both Jeff Bridich and Bill Schmidt from within, but the moves produced very little success. I can’t exactly speak to how the Rockies run their organization, but they are quickly turning into one of the worst in baseball. Agreeing to poor trades, making horrible signings, and failing to develop prospects into anything more than serviceable big leaguers has crippled their franchise for years to come. They are in desperate need of a complete front office makeover, yet I highly doubt that will happen.
Lastly, with Stearns’ departure, the Brewers may look to elevate Matt Arnold to PoBO and bring in someone under him to serve as GM.
Ultimately, with front office moves catching headlines already and some impending decisions looming, it’s time for a breakdown of the top names available.
The main question is if Epstein is even interested in making a comeback as head of baseball operations or if he’s truly burned out and no longer worth mentioning. He’d only consider upper-echelon franchises, so this offseason, the Yankees are probably the only real match. While considering a reunion with the Red Sox would be fun, I don’t think Epstein would be interested in working for John Henry again, especially now that his pursestrings have tightened significantly.
Confession: Theo Epstein is objectively the greatest MLB executive of the modern era. I hate his guts and always will, but you really can't argue his living legend status. pic.twitter.com/uRpmWgNRd8
— Ed Hand (@EdHand89) September 30, 2023
Luhnow is one of the most talented minds in baseball, and if not for the 2017 Astros scandal, he’d still be in Houston. I am still baffled that A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora, and Carlos Beltran were hired by MLB teams when Luhnow has not received a second chance. The perception inside the industry is that he was the ringleader and as such has seen him become persona non grata. Still, given his resume, he would be an excellent hire for almost any franchise.
Two out of the top three options are former Astros GMs. Perhaps that says more about Jim Crane and the Astros than Click and Luhnow. However, there’s no argument that Click did a phenomenal job with the Astros. His player personnel moves were high level and he quickly brought the Astros out from the heavy cloud and scrutiny the franchise suffered after the scandal. Given his lack of synergy with ownership, I would assume Click will be extremely selective in his next opportunity as head of baseball ops, if he even ever decides to do that again. I could see him remaining in Toronto or moving to another stable job like being Stearns’ top assistant with the Mets.
Recently relieved of his duties as Chief of Baseball Operations, Bloom is still young and talented and will land another top job. He may decide to go the route of Alex Anthopoulos, Ben Cherington, and others who were fired, decided to hibernate in a top front office for a year or two, and then move on to the right situation. Or, he, too, could assume the spot of Stearns’ top assistant with the Mets. Many teams wouldn’t want an assistant like Bloom, even if it is for the short term only. But he will be asked to interview for nearly every job opening this offseason and the next.
Remember the unpopular Christian Vázquez to Houston trade? Well the Red Sox are already reaping the benefits with both Wilyer Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez contributing in the majors.
“Chaim did an outstanding job getting those two players,” Alex Cora said.https://t.co/0TqeBLNWkg
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) September 27, 2023
Tampa Bay Rays executives
Seemingly every offseason, someone departs the Rays organization to be either a GM, PoBO, or field manager. This offseason probably won’t be any different. Not including the aforementioned Click and Bloom, who themselves are Rays front office alumni, the Rays have a host of assistant GMs who will garner interest across the league this offseason and for offseasons to come. Assuming both Erik Neaander and Pete Bendix stay, the top options from the Rays organization are Will Cousins, Kevin Ibach, and Carlos Rodriguez. Rodriguez and Ibach both reportedly interviewed for the Tigers’ GM job that recently went to Jeff Greenberg while Cousins replaced James Click as the Rays’ top R&D guy.
Brandon Gomes, Josh Byrnes, and Jeff Kingston
Gomes can only be hired as PoBO, given that he’s already the Dodgers’ GM, while Byrnes and Kingston are assistant GMs. Gomes is the most likely to become the next top lieutenant somewhere in baseball.
Byrnes has already been a GM twice and was way too successful to be fired both times. On both occasions, he was let go due to ownership uncertainty more than anything baseball operations-related. He was one of Andrew Friedman’s first hires with the Dodgers and was hand-selected by Theo Epstein to be his second-in-command in Boston two decades ago. He was a major part of the Indians’ 1990s front office, one of the most talented in baseball history, which saw 10 members eventually become GMs. Byrnes has turned down a handful of GM interviews over the last decade and some believe he is no longer interested in running a front office. He may prefer working behind the scenes and maintaining a high level of job security instead of moving his family around. Otherwise, Byrnes would be much higher on this list.
Jon Daniels and Dayton Moore
Both have a wealth of experience, having been fairly successful GMs for over 15 years and both reaching the World Series on a couple of occasions. Yet, after six consecutive losing seasons, the Rangers and Royals rightfully moved on from their longtime GMs. They are both working in advisor roles for other clubs now and may very well receive a second opportunity as a GM at some point. Yet, all things considered, their status as top baseball men has waned and the cruel reality is they may both be washed up.
One of the most interesting candidates is currently serving as GM of the Phillies, albeit beneath Dave Dombrowski, and has also received a handful of managerial interviews in the past. Fuld may eventually decide to become a field general, similar to A.J. Hinch, who started his tenure as a front office guy before going to the dugout. Yet, if a team comes calling to interview Fuld for a PoBO position, I could see him going in that direction.
Sam Fuld back in 2020 discussing why he was interested in the Red Sox managerial position and his decision to join the Phillies front office.
Even back then, he admitted a front office role always spoke to him a bit more.
— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) September 25, 2023
Probably the most accomplished man in baseball today, Mejdal worked for NASA and Lockheed Martin before joining the Cardinals’ front office. Mejdal has long been thought of as a top No. 2, having gone from St. Louis to Houston as Luhnow’s top lieutenant and then following Mike Elias to Baltimore and reprising that very same role. He has mainly dealt with data science and analytics, but being around the top minds in baseball for over two decades has its perks. After all, everywhere he has gone, success has followed. In fact, it’s a little shocking that Mejdal has yet to receive high levels of interest for a GM role.
One of the bright up-and-comers in today’s game. Harris has been Cleveland’s assistant GM for almost two years now and has already started to receive interviews for GM positions. The Cleveland franchise has been a GM factory for decades now and Harris looks like the next guy in a long list of highly successful personnel to eventually command their own team. Whether it’s this offseason or a couple of years from now, Harris will be a GM—a good one.
Other Names to Watch
- Ben Sestenovich (assistant general manager, Atlanta Braves)
- Eve Rosenbaum (assistant general manager, Baltimore Orioles)
- Andrew Ball (assistant general manager, Houston Astros)
- Dan Kantrovitz (vice president of scouting, Chicago Cubs)
- Steve Sanders, (assistant general manager, Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Amiel Sawdaye (senior vice president and assistant general manager, Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Jason McLeod (special assistant, Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Mike Fast (vice president of baseball development, Atlanta Braves)
- Raquel Ferreira (executive vice president and assistant general manager, Boston Red Sox)
While there is a lot more to delve into with regards to MLB front offices, its people, and its structure, further analysis will have to wait for another time—a time when we are all pinning for any kind of baseball to brighten up the short and dark days of winter.
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