Baseball's Top 10 GM Candidates
Of course, there are many fine candidates that come from different departments and from different teams around the game. The 10 we'll touch on here, however, are some of the most respected and brightest baseball minds in the world. While there are many others who could one day be ready to take on the job of general manager, these names are ready to do so right now.
Al Avila, Tigers (Vice President, Assistant General Manager)
College: St. Thomas University
Experience: Marlins (1992-2001), Tigers (2002-Present)
Avila is long overdue to be a GM. These days he is a key adviser to Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski. With a long resume that spans more than 20 years, Avila has been a critical part of winning clubs throughout his career. With Detroit, Avila played a key role in the deal that brought in Jeremy Bonderman. From his days working in international operations with the Marlins, he can take credit for one of the most successful international signings ever in Miguel Cabrera. In other words, this is a guy who has consistently had an eye for talent. Other names he can stake a claim to include Livan Hernandez, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Luis Castillo and Josh Beckett.
Ben Cherington, Red Sox (Senior Vice President, Assistant General Manager)
College: Amherst College
Experience: Indians (1998), Red Sox (1999-Present)
For a brief period, Cherington was co-general manager of the Red Sox when Theo Epstein left the club after the 2005 season. He's due for a full-time gig now. Cherington first worked in player development for Boston and now assists Theo Epstein day-to-day with major league player personnel. He has a diverse skill set, and he has experience in amateur scouting, contract negotiations, player development and essentially has a hand in all the duties of a GM already. There are not that many ready-made GM candidates out there with the first-hand experience of Cherington.
John Coppolella, Braves (Director, Baseball Administration)
College: Notre Dame
Experience: Yankees (2000-2006), Braves (2006-Present)
Coppolella currently leads the Braves' statistical and arbitration efforts, but he shouldn't be viewed just as an office number-cruncher-type. He has experience in pro scouting from his time with the Yankees and has played a significant role in numerous trades and free agent signings. Coppolella is noted for his work ethic, encyclopedic memory and networking ability. It also doesn't hurt that he's toiled under two of the top general managers of this era, John Schuerholz and Brian Cashman. Even as one of this list's younger candidates, few out there can boast that type of experience in those high-profile environments, and in such an impressive variety of roles.
David Forst, Athletics (Assistant General Manager)
College: Harvard University
Experience: Athletics (1999-Present)
One of the most respected and brightest minds in the game, Forst has spent 11 years working in the well regarded Oakland front office under Billy Beane. Forst, a Harvard University grad, technically falls under the category of "new age" executive, but he brings a college playing background to the table and has extensive experience evaluating players. So, while his strengths may lie in contract negotiations and analysis, he has experience in many different facets of the game, and assisting Billy Beane day-to-day sure can't hurt.
Bill Geivett, Rockies (Assistant General Manager, Vice President of Baseball Operations)
College: University of California at Santa Barbara
Experience: Expos (1994-1996), Devil Rays (1997-1998), Dodgers (1998-2000), Rockies (2001-Present)
A part of pro baseball for more than 20 years, Geivett currently oversees player personnel for the Rockies. If a team is looking for a man that knows, first-hand, the importance of nurturing a strong farm system, look no further than him. Geivett has experience with Montreal, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and now holds a key role with Colorado, particularly in player development. If you look up and down the Rockies' roster, you will find one of the most homegrown teams in baseball. Perhaps most importantly, Geivett has been an assistant GM since 2000 with the Dodgers, and has long been involved with significant organizational decisions.
Jason McLeod, Padres (Assistant General Manager)
College: Palomar College
Experience: Padres (1994-2003), Red Sox (2004-2009), Padres (2010-Present)
Few in baseball can boast as successful a draft resume as McLeod, and that's his biggest selling point as a GM candidate. His list of current big-leaguers includes Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard and Justin Masterson. Because of that fantastic success, he has been recognized quickly and has advanced accordingly as one of the best scouting minds in the industry. With a minor league playing career in his background, and working in a respected Boston front office, McLeod brings a very complete resume to the table.
Kim Ng, Dodgers (Vice President, Assistant General Manager)
College: University of Chicago
Experience: White Sox (1991-1996), Yankees (1998-2001), Dodgers (2002-Present)
Ng has long been a strong candidate for a GM position, and it should be only a matter of time before her stellar resume lands her the big job. With nearly 20 years of front office experience under her belt and having interviewed for multiple GM jobs already, few other candidates could bring such experience into an interview process. Ng has had a number of roles over the years, including overseeing the Dodgers' minor-league system, working as an assistant under Brian Cashman with the Yankees and analyzing players for arbitration cases back in the early '90s with the White Sox. In her current role, she plays a key part in all Dodger transactions and is a respected voice for GM Ned Colletti to rely upon.
Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees (Vice President, Amateur Scouting)
Experience: Yankees (1993-Present)
Leading the Yankees' scouting department is no easy task, and having a large budget may sound easy but it has its challenges. Oppenheimer, a former minor-league player with the Brewers, has proven to be a tireless worker and creative in terms of his drafts. He's landed some under-the-radar talent like Brett Gardner in his tenure as well as many other big-league contributors like Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson. If a club is looking for a "baseball guy" with strengths in player evaluation, Oppenheimer is their man.
A.J. Preller, Rangers (Senior Director, Player Personnel)
College: Cornell University
Experience: Dodgers (2002-2004), Rangers (2005-Present)
It would be difficult to find a harder worker than Preller, who has been an instrumental piece of the puzzle for the Rangers the last few years. He has been the driving force behind the Rangers' rise to powerhouse status on the international market, and has been a key voice in all aspects of Rangers' scouting and player personnel. Preller has worked very closely with Texas general manager Jon Daniels, and has experience when it comes to key organizational decisions. When you consider his experience prior to Texas, in which he worked in both scouting and for Major League Baseball in labor relations, you find someone with a well-rounded background already at a young age.
Logan White, Dodgers (Assistant General Manager, Scouting)
College: Western New Mexico University
Experience: Mariners (1988-1989), Orioles (1990-1992), Padres (1993-1995), Orioles (1996-2001), Dodgers (2002-Present)
You have to look long and hard around the game to find someone with the extensive scouting background of White. With more clubs seeming to grasp the importance of developing talent from within, White becomes an increasingly strong GM candidate. Before taking on his current role, White served as the Dodgers' scouting director and oversaw the drafting of Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin and Jonathan Broxton. Few in the game can take credit for such a large chunk of a big-league roster.
Frankie Piliere spent the last three seasons working as a scout, most recently in the professional scouting department for the Texas Rangers in 2009. He now serves as the National Baseball Analyst here at FanHouse.