SI’s Tim Marchman — after acknowledging just how hard it is to objectively rate general managers due to differing payrolls, owners, and expectations — tries to rate the general managers.
Top 5: Andrew Friedman, Theo, Cashman, Larry Beinfest and Jack Zduriencik.
Bottom 5 (worst first): Dayton Moore, Ed Wade, Brian Sabean, Ned Colletti and Omar Minaya.
I like Friedman and Theo, but I think Cashman should probably lead the list. Yes, the Yankees have tons of money, but ever since the owners have gotten off his back, Cashman has made great moves, not just great-for-a-rich-guy moves. I think Jack Z may be a little high. Great offseason, sure, but until the guys he went out and got actually play a few games it may be worth being a bit conservative.
The bottom end is pretty much right. Dayton Moore has stunk on ice and Ed Wade’s job security is one of the greater mysteries of the universe. I slam Omar a lot, but I still get this feeling that when he’s finally fired we’ll learn that Jeff Wilpon has authored some of the team’s worst moves.
Sabean is my least favorite GM in baseball, less for his actual moves than the fact that he is a spineless man and a loathesome boss. For this reason alone Sabean would be on the bottom of my list even if he traded Aaron Rowand for Stephen Strasburg straight up.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.