Three managerial and three GM jobs openings remain, and one thing’s become clear: Not every job is for everyone who’s on the market.
The Mets’ list of rejections has been documented, and even the Giants, with seemingly one of the most attractive GM jobs in the game (or two jobs, as word is they may well follow the lead of the Dodgers and Cubs and hire two top baseball executives), are said to be frustrated by some turndowns, not only from teams owners who want to hold onto their current executives but also from viable candidates who simply passed.
Teams looking for managers, too, are hearing nos from some candidates, and the speculation is starting that some of the candidates could be waiting for a plum job that may open later. Joe Girardi surprised the Reds by pulling out of that derby last Friday shortly after hearing from the Rangers that they were going in another direction, as was reported here, and there is industry speculation that Girardi, Peoria, Ill. native, Northwestern alum and former Cubs catcher, may well be waiting for a job in Chicago, most likely the Cubs job should it become in available in a year (link).
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Likewise, Mark DeRosa, who like Girardi is an analyst, pulled out of the Rangers derby, as well as all the other derbies, and the main reason is that he loves his current job, as a star of MLB Central. But, he too, has shown enough interest in managing to have taken interviews in the past, including one for the Mets job last winter that went to Mickey Callaway. DeRosa, like Girardi, also may have particular interest in the Cubs job should it open up. Though neither he nor Girardi has spoken of that job or any other that is currently filled, that is considered one of the most prestigious jobs going, not to mention the obvious advantages of an excellent nucleus, high payroll, extraordinary revenues and revered front office and positive, (mostly) hands-off ownership situation.
DeRosa declined an offer to become the Cubs’ bench coach a year ago in what should have come as no surprise since he’s a star at MLB Network and presumably would have had to take a pay cut. Again, while Girardi and DeRosa haven’t said a word about the Cubs job currently filled by Joe Maddon, everyone at this point understands that Maddon will head into the 2019 as a lame duck. While Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein has only spoken glowingly of Maddon, there have been whispers for about a year that there’s some tension in the hierarchy, beyond the fact that the era of the $6-million-a-year manager is about to end, meaning there’s no guarantee the Maddon era lasts beyond 2019.
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Girardi, DeRosa, David Ross and current Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde – who is a candidate for the Rangers and Blue Jays jobs, would seem like potential candidates should the Cubs’ job open up. They are certainly four of the hotter names in the game, so a strategy to wait makes some sense, especially for accomplished men who already have great jobs. DeRosa, in particular, is a very hot name in the game right now, thanks to his unbridled enthusiasm and energy, nice playing career, obvious smarts and the bonus of Ivy League pedigree (he’s a University of Pennsylvania alum). Girardi doesn’t perfectly fit the current managerial prototype but he has a superb resume and Northwestern degree; beyond the 10 mostly successful years as Yankees manager he was Manager of the Year his one year with the Marlins before being let go.
Without further ado, here’s a rundown of the seven remaining jobs, who’s out, who’s in and where they may go:
It’s well-documented that there are divergent thoughts among the top Mets decisionmakers, meaning co-owner Fred Wilpon and his COO son Jeff, with Fred preferring an old-school candidate who isn’t relying on analytics and Jeff said to understand the need to continue using analytics. Potentially, that could mean trouble for the team, but somehow together they seem to have stumbled onto an interesting and smart final trio of candidates – though the three do reflect the variance of opinion about the way to go.
The Mets job is said to be down to ex Brewers/Rangers GM Doug Melvin, big-time agent Brodie Van Wagenen and Rays assistant GM Chaim Bloom. All are respected, but all three come from divergent categories – Melvin is seen as old school (though he’s made it clear he isn’t opposed to analytics, both on our show on Farncred(link) and in the group interview following his meeting with the Mets), Bloom an analytics expert and Van Wagenen a possible “outside the box” compromise candidate.
Melvin, who built two teams in much worse shape than even the Mets, has been characterized in some circles as a possible favorite, and it makes some sense as Fred Wilpon has been said by all involved to want to rely less on analytics following the regime of Sandy Alderson (a father of analytics), and Wilpon often casts the decisive vote, as he did in the case of Alderson, who actually had six very good years in Queens before two disappointing seasons.
Van Wagenen, as the agent for Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo and Tim Tebow, has forged a positive relationship with the Mets, and while his selection would certainly be unusual, it’s worked in other sports (see Rob Pelinka, Lakers) and could serve as a move both sides could live with. Bloom would seem to be analytically inclined enough to give Wilpon pause, but perhaps he could be hired in tandem with one of the others.
It also shouldn’t be ruled out that they hire two of these candidates if they can – though they already are pretty strong at the top with three co-GMs with experience — Omar Minaya, John Ricco and J.P. Ricciardi — currently running things.
Word is that their intention is to take a page out of the playbook of their most successful rivals – the Dodgers and Cubs – and ramp up their analytics (“next gen” GM is the goal according to managing partner Larry Baer) and possibly install two top people to head their front office (the Dodgers have Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi and the Cubs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer).
They’ve interviewed Jason McLeod, the No. 3 man in the Cubs hierarchy but it might be hard to imagine the rival Dodgers allowing them to talk to any of their key people, including Zaidi, who toiled crosstown with the A’s. They’d surely love A’s GM David Forst, but Forst is under contract for another year, likely to be extended and hard to imagine available to the crosstown team.
The Giants have been turned down to interview Brewers GM David Stearns by Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio, and word is they’ve been turned down by ex Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and others, causing come consternation and frustration following the semi-surprise firing of GM Bobby Evans. They have also talked to Diamondbacks assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye (who’s speculated as a potential favorite) and also Bloom, who is a popular man this hiring season. They’ve also been connected to Dan Kantrovitz of the A’s and Mike Elias of the Astros as they seek to switch to an analytics heavy team.
It’s somewhat curious that the Giants, who won three World Series title this decade (two more than the Cubs and three more than the Dodgers, depending on what happens this World Series) are scrapping things and starting over. But as one Dodgers person put it, “The debate’s over. The analytics people won.” It appears so. Even Brian Sabean, who built the championship teams, is apparently being relegated to consultant status.
RELATED: Kim Ng a serious candidate for Orioles GM role
Longtime MLB executive Kim Ng, formerly with the Dodgers, Yankees and White Sox, would appear to have a chance to finally break the glass ceiling. Ng is one of two known candidates, and the sense is that she has a real chance. Cherington, well-respected from his days with the Red Sox, and currently with yet another AL East rival, the Blue Jays.
Ng could wind up combining with ex Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who teamed with Ng in L.A. and interviewed with the Orioles this summer. There have been no other names connected to the Orioles to this point, but they need to hurry, as they also need to start their managerial derby before all the preferred candidates are gone.
With DeRosa taking himself out (and a few others eliminating themselves) and the Rangers eliminating Girardi, there are six known candidates at this point: Hyde, Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Phillies minor league manager Dusty Wathan, Reds minor league manager Stubby Clapp (of the immensely successful Memphis Redbirds) Rangers interim manager Don Wakamatsu and Jayce Tingler from the Rangers front office. Angels AAA manager Eric Chavez is also a contender, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Word is they may expand the search, ad they are considering some others, though they haven’t rule out hiring one of the six interviewees. One rival GM guessed it’d be a young guy such as Hyde (there’s already a Cubs connection with the hiring of Shiraz Rehman from the front office) or even Tingler, while another figured Wakamatsu may keep the job. At this point, they could go in any direction, and perhaps there’s even a bit of hope being held out that legendary Rangers player Michael Young might change his mind and declare himself ready to manage (to this point he’s said the timing isn’t right).
Blue Jays manager
Rays bench coach Charlie Montoyo was reported in this space to be a surprise candidate who was in Toronto being interviewed when folks were suggesting the candidates were known as Hyde, Espada and Baldelli. (Though Shi Davidi of Sportsnet Canada did suggest there were five finalists, which could mean there may be one more mystery candidate).
It's known the Jays at least spoke by phone to ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez and former Jays player John McDonald, though it isn’t known if either is the fifth candidate (which could be like the fifth Beatle, anyway). Stubby Clapp, a Canadian who’s had big success as a Cardinals min0r-league manager, was rumored to be a candidate, but contrary to a report in the Toronto Sun, has yet to interview.
The Orioles are waiting to hire a GM before beginning a managerial search. Early names (in season when Buck Showalter was still there) included Billy Ripken from the iconic Orioles family and Orioles broadcaster Mike Bordick, and either of them might bring good cheer, which wouldn’t hurt. The same might be said in regards to Ng, as baseball would receive plaudits for become the first major sport to have a women in charge of a front office, if it happens, even in conjunction with Colletti.
Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.