Power Ranking Every MLB Team’s Front Office Entering 2023
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Let’s assume, just for a moment, that we were suddenly the proud new owners of a Major League Baseball franchise. Now let’s assume, just for another moment, that we could pick any of the league’s front offices to run baseball operations.
Which would be the best for the job? The worst? And everywhere in between?
This was our mindset as we sought to rank all 30 of the league’s current front offices as a new season bears down on MLB. And we do mean “current.” The newest, and therefore least proven, front office regimes got pushed to the bottom by default.
Otherwise, we considered the following in making out analyses and determining our rankings:
- Drafting and developing
- Free-agent signings
- Contract extensions
Though not every front office obviously has the same resources to work with, the essential question at hand was how well each is using what resources it does have.
In any case, let’s begin the countdown.
30. Houston Astros
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AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
General Manager: None
Well, this is awkward. Because for all the Astros’ success over the last six years—i.e., four 100-win seasons and World Series championships in 2017 and 2022—gloating about the brilliance of their front office is hard to do while it doesn’t technically have a leader.
Heck, it wasn’t even easy to do, as the Astros were en route to winning it all last year. It was nominally James Click’s team, but realistically Jeff Luhnow’s. There’s no shortage of baggage attached to the latter, while the former was out of a job shortly after the Fall Classic ended.
Though the situation doesn’t seem permanent, Astros owner Jim Crane has been running the show this winter. Pulling a Jerry Jones is a bad idea just in concept, and Crane hasn’t exactly impressed in letting Justin Verlander go and spending $93 million on a good-not-great reliever (Rafael Montero) and an aging first baseman (José Abreu).
29. Detroit Tigers
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AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File
President of Baseball Operations: Scott Harris since Sep. 2022
Al Avila made a mess of things during his seven years in charge of the Tigers front office. The rebuild that he began in 2017 effectively failed, resulting in his ouster amid an ugly 96-loss campaign in 2022.
This is not to say, however, that Harris took on an unenviable job when Detroit hired him away from the San Francisco Giants. Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal are good pieces to build around, and there are more standing by down on the farm.
Though Harris has yet to really flex his muscles in his new role, the Tigers were right to target him. He was one of Farhan Zaidi’s top lieutenants in San Francisco and thus a key part of a novel approach—we’ll get more into it when we talk about the Giants themselves—to constructing a 107-win team in 2021.
28. Cincinnati Reds
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General Manager: Nick Krall since May 2018
Though Krall has been at his post for over four years, it’s only since Dick Williams’ resignation as the Reds’ president of baseball operations that he’s had sole control of the front office. But this is not to suggest that the club’s 145-179 record over the last two years is all on him.
Ownership owns that even more so than Krall does, as the mood in that branch isn’t exactly competitive these days. Hence why Krall was talking about aligning the club’s payroll to its resources in Nov. 2021, which begat a fire sale that had pushed basically all of the team’s brand-name players out of town come the trade deadline for the 2022 season.
Mercifully, it hasn’t all been for naught. All those trades did help spur a dramatic improvement for Cincinnati’s farm system throughout 2022. Between that and the core pieces—i.e., Jonathan India, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Alexis Díaz—already in place, Krall may yet prove his worth as a crafty architect.
27. Colorado Rockies
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AP Photo/David Zalubowski
General Manager: Bill Schmidt since May 2021
The Rockies were reeling when Schmidt took charge of the front office on an interim basis nearly two years ago. The recent trade of Nolan Arenado had basically doomed the team’s season before it even started, and Jeff Bridich didn’t even make it to the end of April before resigning.
Though the Rockies are 39 games under .500 over the last two seasons, it’s not all bad under Schmidt. He at least has the pipeline looking in good shape, with shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and outfielder Zac Veen poised to become stars in the near future.
The bad stuff is very much there, though. Weird extensions. The (so far) disastrous $182 million deal with Kris Bryant. And perhaps above all, a frustrating failure to launch the beefed-up analytics department that the organization sorely needs. The dilemma of how to build a sustainable winner in the thin air of Denver isn’t going to solve itself, after all.
26. Los Angeles Angels
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General Manager: Perry Minasian since Nov. 2020
Minasian inherited a mixed bag from Billy Eppler when he took the Angels job. On the good side, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. On the bad, a soon-to-be-albatross deal with Anthony Rendon and a farm system in some disrepair.
Minasian didn’t put much of his own stamp on the Angels in his first two years on the job. The club notched its sixth and seventh straight losing seasons in 2021 and 2022, which were marked by bad breakups with Albert Pujols and Joe Maddon. Meanwhile, the farm system might only have gotten worse.
The context that matters here is that Minasian is working for an owner in Arte Moreno who’s looking to sell the team. That could make 2023 his last chance to prove he’s worth keeping in charge of baseball operations, so it’s a good thing that he’s scored some solid players in free agency (i.e., Tyler Anderson and Brandon Drury) and via trades (i.e., Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela).
25. Miami Marlins
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General Manager: Kim Ng since Nov. 2020
It’s hardly all on Ng that the Marlins only have a 136-188 record to show for her first two seasons. Most of the blame belongs to team owner Bruce Sherman, whose frugality is frustratingly on par with the team’s previous owner, Jeffrey Loria. Just ask Derek Jeter.
For her part, Ng does have some wins on her record. A team-friendly contract for reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara is perhaps the big one, and the likes of Trevor Rogers and Edward Cabrera have graduated to the big leagues under her watch.
Granted, Ng isn’t responsible for originally acquiring either of those two, and the farm system is generally in just OK shape right now. And as fair as it is to criticize Sherman for not ponying up, it’s also fair to criticize Ng for whiffing on the signings of Jorge Soler and Avisaíl García.
24. Boston Red Sox
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Chief Baseball Officer: Chaim Bloom since Oct. 2019
Lest anyone think that Bloom’s time in Boston has been a total catastrophe, let’s grant that the Red Sox came within two wins of the World Series in 2021. In Kyle Schwarber, Enrique Hernández and Garrett Whitlock, he provided three guys who were instrumental to that.
Still, it doesn’t reflect well on Bloom that it’s mostly bad stuff that stands out. The Mookie Betts trade was a bad move that’s only gotten worse over time. Likewise, the mishandling of the 2022 trade deadline and Xander Bogaerts’ painful departure this winter—though ownership certainly shares the blame for that one—are on Bloom.
Alex Speier @alexspeier
The Red Sox offer to Bogaerts was for 6 years and roughly $160M – a higher AAV (roughly $27M) than he got from SD ($25.5M), but with such a massive gap in term that it wasn’t close <a href=”https://t.co/uqaU854bFu”>https://t.co/uqaU854bFu</a> via <a href=”https://twitter.com/BostonGlobe?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BostonGlobe</a>
The best thing Bloom has going for him now is a farm system that isn’t great on the whole but is headlined by some legit blue-chip talent. That alone, though, shouldn’t be enough to save him from the hot seat.
23. Pittsburgh Pirates
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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File
General Manager: Ben Cherington since Nov. 2019
Cherington walked into an ugly situation when he took the Pirates job. The clubhouse basically went to rot during a 93-loss season in 2019, for which heads ultimately rolled when team chairman Bob Nutting cleaned house.
It would have been a cool story if Cherington had immediately gotten the Bucs back on the high seas, but they’ve sunk even lower in posting MLB’s worst record over the last three seasons. It’s not all his fault, though. Nutting is a cheapskate in the best of times, and he’s gone full-tank in authorizing dirt-cheap payrolls over the last three years.
At least Cherington is playing the long game well. Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz are a fun infield duo to build around, and Cherington is responsible for the top players in what’s a top-five farm system. It’s a different approach to the one he took in building a championship team in Boston in 2013, but it may work.
22. Texas Rangers
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AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
General Manager: Chris Young since Dec. 2020
Though Young has been at the GM post for a couple of years at this point, he didn’t take sole possession of the baseball ops reins until the Rangers fired Jon Daniels last August. It seems baseball owners don’t like spending $581 million in free agency only to lose 94 games.
As for Young himself, you can tell that he was a big-league pitcher in a past life. He was instrumental in adding Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker to what looks like a solid farm system. Plus, the $244 million he’s spent in free agency this winter has all gone toward arms: Jacob deGrom, first and foremost, and also Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney.
The result is a rotation that looks ticketed for a dramatic improvement after an ugly effort in 2022. Between that and Young’s successful luring of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy back to the manager’s chair, we daresay he’s off to a good start.
21. Baltimore Orioles
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AP Photo/Julio Cortez
General Manager: Mike Elias since Nov. 2018
Elias took the Orioles job when the team was fresh off a 115-loss season. Two more 100-loss campaigns followed in 2019 and 2021, sandwiched around a 25-35 performance in the shortened 2020 season. In other words, the returns were not immediate.
That finally changed last year, with Elias’ fingerprints all over Baltimore’s 83-79 record. Of particular note is that he’s the guy who drafted Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, both of whom are cornerstones he can build around for years to come.
The same will hopefully be true of right-hander Grayson Rodriguez and other pieces from Baltimore’s elite farm system, but at some point, Elias is going to need more help from ownership. He’s gotten basically none, though the issue there seems to be more a lack of harmony than a lack of faith in Elias’ process.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks
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General Manager: Mike Hazen since Oct. 2016
Hazen’s arrival in 2016 was immediately followed by a reversal of the Diamondbacks’ fortunes. The 2017 season brought a 24-win improvement and a trip to the playoffs, with two more winning seasons set to come in 2018 and 2019.
The shine has worn off a bit as the Snakes have racked up the league’s fourth-worst winning percentage over the last three seasons. It hasn’t helped that Hazen has had some misfires in free agency, with his $85 million deal with Madison Bumgarner landing with a particularly loud thud.
Given Hazen’s solid track record with trades, though, his recent deals for Gabriel Moreno, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Kyle Lewis invite optimism. He also has the farm system in good shape, with outfielder Corbin Carroll and shortstop Jordan Lawlar standing out as two of the best prospects in all of MLB. The re-rise of the D-backs may therefore be nigh.
19. Kansas City Royals
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General Manager: J.J. Picollo since Sep. 2021
The Royals front office was the envy of the baseball world amid back-to-back World Series runs in 2014 and 2015 that were fueled by homegrown stars like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez. But, alas, stagnation set in well before the club finally parted ways with Dayton Moore last September.
Everything is now in the hands of Picollo, whose most notable credit is having helped build those great teams of the mid-2010s. But to this point, there isn’t much to say about what he’s done since taking the captain’s chair for himself. He’s made only minor additions throughout the winter and has yet to follow through on his desire to extend Bobby Witt Jr.
The latter should be an immediate priority, while Picollo’s top long-term goal should be rebuilding a farm system that simply must thrive for the Royals to have sustained success. Because unless owner John Sherman is planning on breaking from tradition, big payrolls just aren’t in the club’s future.
18. Washington Nationals
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AP Photo/Alex Brandon
President of Baseball Operations: Mike Rizzo since Aug. 2009
The Nationals have fallen on brutal times since winning the World Series in 2019, racking up a .380 winning percentage that ranks as the second-worst in all of MLB over the last three seasons. And yet, this shouldn’t distract from the rest of Rizzo’s impressive track record.
This is the guy who developed Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg, traded for Trea Turner and whose signings include an all-time success story in Max Scherzer’s $210 million deal. In addition to the championship, such things guided the Nats to the second-most regular-season wins between 2012 and 2019.
Even now, with the team’s on-field fortunes in the toilet and the organization up for sale, Rizzo is still doing good work. As painful as it might have been for him to trade Soto last summer, it’s a key reason why Washington’s farm system is on the up and up.
17. Milwaukee Brewers
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AP Photo/Morry Gash
General Manager: Matt Arnold since Nov. 2020
Arnold first joined the Brewers front office back in 2015, but it’s only recently that he became the man in charge. David Stearns stepped down as the club’s president of baseball operations in October.
Things went very well under Stearns for a while, with the Brewers scoring on all sorts of player acquisition fronts in constructing four consecutive playoff teams between 2018 and 2021. But there have been hiccups more recently, highlighted by Christian Yelich’s ill-fated $215 million extension and a puzzling trade of Josh Hader that disrupted the club’s 2022 season.
Arnold has had to thread a needle in turning a new page for 2023, as he’s been tasked with keeping Milwaukee in contention while also cutting payroll. It’s not much to go off for now, but he’s to be commended for doing the job reasonably well via trades for Jesse Winker, Abraham Toro and William Contreras.
16. Oakland Athletics
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General Manager: David Forst since Oct. 2015
In no small part thanks to talented scribes like Michael Lewis and Aaron Sorkin, the A’s front office isn’t just baseball famous—it’s pop-culture famous. And even as recently as the team’s consecutive playoff appearances in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the shoe still fits.
Right now, though, things are weird. Billy Beane is no longer involved in day-to-day operations alongside Forst, and who can blame him for wanting to step aside? The A’s have always operated with small budgets, but the bar was set so low for 2022 that the front office was forced to liquidate its best assets. A truly depressing 102-loss season followed.
It wouldn’t be unlike the A’s to unexpectedly rise from the ashes anyway, but even their history makes it hard to count on it at this point. The major league roster is an embarrassment, and the farm system is in rough shape. It’s as if the entire organization has gone into a state of hibernation, which may not end until a new stadium finally materializes.
15. Chicago Cubs
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President of Baseball Operations: Jed Hoyer since Nov. 2020
Before he took the big job for himself, Hoyer was Theo Epstein’s right-hand man between 2011 and 2020. Their crowning achievement, of course, was a long-awaited World Series winner in 2016 that they mostly built from the ground up.
Hoyer has been forced to do more thankless work over the last two years, particularly in breaking up the core of that championship team in 2021. But instead of dwelling on that, we think it’s more instructive to credit Hoyer for the shape he has the Cubs in now.
Pitching and defense resulted in the team putting up a 39-31 record in the second half of last season. Hoyer has effectively doubled down on such things with his signings (i.e., Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger and Jameson Taillon) this winter, and the club’s run prevention will get still another boost when outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong graduates to the majors.
14. Chicago White Sox
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General Manager: Rick Hahn since Oct. 2012
Hahn’s leadership of the White Sox’s front office wasn’t looking so good even as recently as four years ago. The club was on a seven-year streak of losing seasons, and 2019 brought early indications that the Fernando Tatis Jr.-for-James Shields trade was going to be an all-time dud.
Since then, though, the White Sox are 34 games over .500. Hahn can and should take credit for that, as he’s put some darn good rosters together by developing players like Tim Anderson and Luis Robert and trading for Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Yoán Moncada and Eloy Jiménez.
Things went a little sideways in 2022, though that was in part thanks to a managerial hire that seemingly wasn’t Hahn’s call. It bears noting that the South Siders were seen as having World Series upside going into last season, so they shouldn’t be underestimated as a heavy hitter in 2023 after adding Andrew Benintendi and Mike Clevinger this winter.
13. Minnesota Twins
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President of Baseball Operations: Derek Falvey since Nov. 2016
The Twins were fresh off a 103-loss season when Falvey and his GM, Thad Levine, entered the picture in 2016. It, therefore, reflects well that the team has since made the playoffs three times, including by way of a 101-win campaign in 2019.
The franchise has fallen on harder times since then, but not for lack of trying on the front office’s part. You just don’t sign Carlos Correa, extend Byron Buxton or trade for Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle and Jorge López otherwise. And for what it’s worth, the Twins didn’t simply let Correa walk this winter.
Whether the Twins are equipped to return to the top of the AL Central in 2023 is nonetheless a good question, but the long game matters here as much as the short one. The farm system is in excellent shape, with shortstop Brooks Lee notably on the fast track to the majors after going to the Twins at No. 8 in last year’s draft.
12. San Francisco Giants
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AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
President of Baseball Operations: Farhan Zaidi since Nov. 2018
The Giants seemed on the verge of collapse when Zaidi rolled into town in 2018, so it feels like a small miracle that they’ve mostly been competitive under his watch—especially, of course, during a franchise-record 107-win season in 2021.
The Giants’ roster was full of familiar yet aging faces in ’21, so it was quite the surprise when everyone just plain played better. Far from some kind of coincidence, apparently that’s what can happen when a front office puts its faith in coaching and innovative yet obvious forms of on-field preparation.
Andrew Cresci @ACresci7
SF is currently the only team hitting pregame on-field w/ pitching machines simulating pitch profiles of potential pitchers they are going to face.<br><br>Actively challenging hitters in the most game-like environment possible to prepare their hitters for success… crazy idea right?⬇️
However, 2021 is the exception and not the rule for the Giants under Zaidi. It hasn’t helped that he’s largely been unable to reel in impact talent, scoring on Carlos Rodón but missing on Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and (albeit retroactively) Carlos Correa in free agency. To boot, one would expect the farm system to be in better shape than it is after four years of work.
11. Seattle Mariners
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President of Baseball Operations: Jerry Dipoto since Sep. 2015
For the first few years of his tenure with the Mariners, Dipoto was known for making a whole bunch of trades and really not much else. Seattle had some good seasons between 2016 and 2020, but none brought the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2001.
That obviously changed last year, in large part because of three fruits from the farm system that Dipoto had cultivated: AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez and young hurlers Logan Gilbert and George Kirby. Trade acquisitions naturally played a role as well, particularly Eugenio Suárez, Luis Castillo, J.P. Crawford and Andrés Muñoz.
It’s a bummer that the Mariners have basically sat out this offseason’s free-agent market after inking Robbie Ray to a $115 million deal last winter. But in light of Dipoto’s mostly successful track record with trades, his deals for Teoscar Hernández and Kolten Wong provide all the more reason to believe that 2023 will be another special season in Seattle.
10. Toronto Blue Jays
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General Manager: Ross Atkins since Dec. 2015
Though the Blue Jays enjoyed a second straight trip to the American League Championship Series in Atkins’ first year in charge in 2016, that was mostly with parts that were assembled by his predecessor, Alex Anthopoulos.
Yet to his credit, Atkins has not erred in putting his own stamp on the Blue Jays in recent years. He oversaw the bulk of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s development, drafted Bo Bichette and Alek Manoah and signed Alejandro Kirk. His work with the farm is also what enabled trades for Teoscar Hernández, Matt Chapman, José Berríos and, most recently, Daulton Varsho.
Atkins may never top luring eventual Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray back to Toronto with an $8 million deal after 2020, but big-ticket deals with George Springer and Kevin Gausman have already borne fruit. If the club’s $63 million pact with Chris Bassitt likewise does the same, a third playoff appearance in four years awaits the Jays in 2023.
9. New York Mets
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AP Photo/Seth Wenig
General Manager: Billy Eppler since Nov. 2021
Talk about a good first impression. Eppler comes aboard, and the Mets’ 2022 season sees them top 100 wins for the first time since 1988.
That was made possible in part by a free-agent splurge on Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Adam Ottavino. But that one now looks like a mere warm-up for the one that Eppler has taken on this winter in spending over $800 million on new contracts.
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Since free agency began, the Mets signed:<br><br>- Carlos Correa, $315M<br>- Brandon Nimmo, $162M<br>- Edwin Díaz, $102M<br>- Justin Verlander, $86.6M<br>- Kodai Senga, $75M<br>- Jose Quintana, $26M<br>- Omar Narvaez, $15M<br>- Adam Ottavino, $14.5M<br>- David Robertson, $10M<br><br>Total outlay: $806.1 million.
But this, of course, leads us to the real question: Is Eppler the star of the show here, or is it owner Steve Cohen’s money? We’re surely not alone in leaning toward the latter, though we want to do so without taking credit away from either party for not wanting to neglect the team’s farm system. And that, too, is looking good, for the record.
8. San Diego Padres
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AP Photo/Gregory Bull
President of Baseball Operations: A.J. Preller since Aug. 2014
Preller’s first big act with the Padres was to pull off a series of high-profile trades and signings that had Matt Kemp referring to him as a “rock star.” But the reality didn’t live up to the hype at first, as the Padres endured losing seasons in each of Preller’s first five seasons.
Preller kept at it, though. His steady work on the farm system gave him the ammunition to trade for the likes of Juan Soto, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell and Josh Hader, while his $300 million deal with Manny Machado from Feb. 2019 has improbably turned into a bargain. The same may prove to be true of Xander Bogaerts’ $280 million deal.
This is not even to mention Preller’s 2016 heist of Fernando Tatis Jr., which is still a feather in his cap despite last year’s suspension. Even if Tatis doesn’t make a strong return in 2023, the Padres will still have World Series aspirations after nearly making it there in 2022.
7. Philadelphia Phillies
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President of Baseball Operations: David Dombrowski since Dec. 2020
You only hire a legend like Dombrowski when you mean business, and it was clear enough that the Phillies did by the time they brought him aboard. He was taking over a roster that already had $448 million invested in Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler.
Dombrowski pushed the proverbial envelope even further with $294.5 million worth of deals for J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. The payoff wasn’t immediate, but last year’s inspiring trip to the World Series was a heck of a proof of concept that this approach can work. So, what’s not to like about another $397 million worth of free-agent contracts for Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm?
To be sure, one could argue that anybody could spend Phillies owner John Middleton’s money like this. Yet we have to hand it to Dombrowski for being true to a simple but admirable philosophy that more front office types should adhere to: “You win with star players.”
6. New York Yankees
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General Manager: Brian Cashman since Feb. 1998
The Yankees have gone 30 years in a row without a losing season. Cashman has been the architect of 25 of those teams, as well as World Series champions in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. So, what’s not to like?
Well, there is the question of whether somebody else could have done more in his position. It’s true that the Yankees don’t spend like they used to—take it up with Hal Steinbrenner—but they’re still a regular among MLB’s big spenders. Cashman can blame the Astros all he wants, but he can’t blame a lack of resources for a World Series drought that extends back 13 years and counting.
Still, it’s not for lack of trying that Cashman hasn’t delivered in recent years. He’s developed from within (i.e., Aaron Judge), made huge trades (i.e., Giancarlo Stanton) and gone big in free agency (i.e., Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodón), and he frankly doesn’t get the credit he deserves for occasionally digging up gems such as Nestor Cortes, Clay Holmes and Jose Trevino.
5. St. Louis Cardinals
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President of Baseball Operations: John Mozeliak since Oct. 2007
It already feels like forever ago that the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 and then went back in 2013, but not because the franchise has endured any kind of fall from grace. Indeed, it has yet to have even one losing season under Mozeliak.
Not bad, considering that the Cardinals have never had better than the league’s seventh Opening Day payroll in this span. Notable deals with Matt Holliday, Dexter Fowler and Willson Contreras notwithstanding, Mozeliak has largely favored the trade market over free agency for adding impact talent. That’s how Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado arrived in town, and one could say they’ve done well in St. Louis.
Mozeliak has also kept up a strong tradition of developing players from within in recent years, and particularly in 2022, as the Cardinals got significant returns from five 25-and-under hitters. As the farm system remains loaded, it’s hard to see the Redbirds taking a turn for the worse under Mozeliak’s leadership any time soon.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
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President of Baseball Operations: Erik Neander since Nov. 2016
The Rays lost a mastermind when the Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman away back in 2014, but Neander has done a fine job in carrying on his legacy. His teams have produced MLB’s fifth-best winning percentage since 2017, not to mention a World Series appearance in 2020.
Pro tip: If the Rays want to trade for one of your guys, just say no. Neander’s track record is littered with wins, from Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow to Yandy Díaz to Drew Rasmussen to Isaac Paredes and maybe the best of them all: Randy Arozarena.
Neander’s record is likewise full of wins on the drafting and developing fronts, the most recent of which are franchise shortstop Wander Franco and ace left-hander Shane McClanahan. As there’s still plenty more where they came from down on the farm, the Rays’ masterclass lesson on how to win with perpetually limited budgets is very much ongoing.
3. Cleveland Guardians
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President of Baseball Operations: Chris Antonetti since Oct. 2010
Not once has Antonetti had the luxury of a high payroll during his stewardship of the Guardians front office, but that hasn’t kept the club from sustained success on the field. The Guardians boast MLB’s fourth-best record since 2011, as well as six playoff berths.
Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie are merely Antonetti’s latest successes with developing pitchers, while his position-player credits include Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez. Even the trade of Lindor has worked out well for the Guardians, as it resulted in a mostly homegrown (and indeed very young) squad getting impact contributions from both Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez in 2022.
Meanwhile, Cleveland’s farm system is still elite despite all the recent graduations. It’s thus hard to imagine anyone doing a better job of balancing the present and the future while working within limited means than what Antonetti has done. One can only wonder what he might do if given access to more ample financial resources.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
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President of Baseball Operations: Andrew Friedman since Oct. 2014
The Dodgers were already on an upswing by the time they hired Friedman. What they needed was for him to make it sustainable. If the league’s best record and 47 playoff wins since 2015 send any message, it ought to be “Mission Accomplished.”
Save for the infamous Yordan Alvarez trade, Friedman’s own record doesn’t have many misses. He’s consistently kept the farm system in excellent shape even as he’s both mined from it and pulled from it in trades for the likes of Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. And whether we’re talking pitchers or hitters, Friedman’s Dodgers have a history of turning seemingly unspectacular players into stars.
Of course, the catch right now is that the Dodgers have been weirdly absent from this winter’s active free-agent market. If it’s a luxury tax thing, then that’s on ownership. But if it’s also about saving money for a run at Shohei Ohtani next winter, well, we don’t hate it.
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President of Baseball Operations: Alex Anthopoulos since Nov. 2017
After having constructed some very good (and fun to watch, to boot) teams in Toronto, Anthopoulos already had a good reputation by the time he arrived in Atlanta. Yet five straight NL East titles and a World Series championship in 2021 have only made it better.
It doesn’t take much to argue that Atlanta would not have won it all if Anthopoulos hadn’t gone out and gotten Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall at the trade deadline. And while one might fault him for losing Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson, let’s remember that A) his financial resources aren’t limitless and B) what players he has locked up:
Talkin’ Baseball @TalkinBaseball_
Players the Braves have signed to 7-plus year extensions since 2019…<br><br>Albies: 7 years, $35 million<br>Acuña: 8 years, $100 million<br>Olson: 8 years, $168 million<br>Riley: 10 years, $212 million<br>Harris: 8 years, $72 million<br>Strider: 7 years, $92 million<br>Murphy: 7 years, $88 million
That’s seven team-friendly extensions that Atlanta has done under Anthopoulos, five of which went to players developed from within. That’s taking team-building well beyond mere roster-filling, so it seems a safe bet that the five-year run of success that Atlanta has had under Anthopoulos will continue for at least another five years.
So if we could, we’d gladly hire him to run our team.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.