Theo Epstein being introduced this week as the Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations means that only one team now is no longer interested in the services of Rays GM Andrew Friedman. Friedman was initially speculated to be on the Cubs short list of potential candidates when they first fired Jim Hendry at the end of July. Once the Cubs did not receive the same interest from Friedman, they moved all of their attention to Epstein and were able to draw him away from the Red Sox.
Friedman has attracted the attention of a number of major league clubs over the last few years. There is obvious respect for what he has been able to do for a franchise that has spent an average of just under 49 million dollars a year over the last five seasons. It is also a franchise that has been in the bottom third of attendance in every year of its existence except for two. Still, over the last four years the Rays have made the playoffs three times, including a World Series run in 2008. They have done all of this while competing in the “money grows on trees” American League East.
Now it looks like the Los Angeles Angels are the latest team interested in trying to lure Friedman away from the gulf coast of Florida. While early reports are that he isn’t interested in leaving the Rays, he did meet with Angels management about a week ago. Friedman’s tie to the Rays ownership seems to be the only thing keeping him Tampa. He does feel like a really good fit with what the Rays face and how they have to conduct themselves as an organization.
Different teams present different challenges and just because a GM has more money to play with, it doesn’t mean the team is going to automatically have success. The Cubs and the Angels aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last, to come calling for Andrew’s services. Friedman has helped the Rays beat the odds the last few years and I’d like to see them beat them again and be able to keep him around.