There has been speculation in the past few days that Tampa Bay Rays Executive VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman might be intrigued by the a potential opening with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Still, a move like that did not seem imminent by any means, especially given the fact that the Dodgers still had their own GM in Ned Colletti. Plus, Friedman had a great bond with Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg.
But now, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Friedman will join the Dodgers front office, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirms that he will be taking over as their GM. In addition, Topkin says that Matt Silverman, who is serving as the Rays president, will take over the Rays baseball operations.
This is certainly a shock to Rays fans everywhere. Friedman was brought in when Sternberg first bought the team, and he served as the Director of Baseball Operations in 2004 and 2005. At just 28 years old he was promoted to the Executive VP of Baseball Operations position in 2005, replacing Chuck LaMar. In just three years, Friedman took the Rays to their first World Series in 2008, which they ultimately lost to the Philadelphia Phillies. That was not their only success, though, as the Rays went on to win 90+ games in five of seven seasons from 2008-2014 and make the playoffs four times in those seven years.
Friedman will be known for two things; his ability to do so much with few resources and his knack for winning trades by a large margin. In his Rays’ tenure, the team has only topped the $80 million payroll mark one time. Yet, Friedman has still found a way to put together winning clubs. Trade-wise, Friedman has made one-sided deals such as acquiring Ben Zobrist for a half-season of Aubrey Huff, acquiring Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard for James Shields and Wade Davis, and netting Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee, Sam Fuld, and Robinson Chirinos from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Matt Garza and a couple of throw-ins. Bringing in young talent via trades was a large part of the reason that the Rays were able to stay competitive with such a small payroll.
The good news for the Rays as the dust settles, though, is that Silverman knows how the Rays organization works. He assisted Sternberg when he was purchasing the team, and Silverman was actually how Friedman met Sternberg in the first place. Silverman has served as the Rays president for the past eight years. Expect the direction and ideals of the organization to remain largely the same with Silverman at the helm.
Right now, it likely hurts to be a Rays fan. Friedman has been the life and blood of this team ever since taking over as GM, and in that time he has established himself as one of the brightest young minds in baseball. He will certainly be missed by the Rays, but ultimately they have another bright mind in Matt Sliverman to take over the club’s baseball operations.