Jeff Bridich steps down as general manager of Rockies

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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DENVER — Jeff Bridich is stepping down as general manager of the Colorado Rockies, ending a tumultuous tenure that included two playoff appearances and a falling out with Nolan Arenado that ultimately led to the star third baseman’s offseason trade.

The Rockies announced Monday that the decision was a mutual agreement with Bridich, who was in his seventh season as GM. The team will appoint an interim general manager for the rest of the season before launching a search following the postseason.

Bridich said in a statement that he recently had a conversation with owner Dick Monfort and newly appointed team president Greg Feasel about the team’s future.

“It became abundantly clear that ushering in a new leadership structure is critically important,” Bridich said. “With that in mind we arrived at this decision to part ways, and ultimately it will be what is best for the Rockies and for me. Change can be a great thing for an organization and for the individuals who comprise it. Dick has a clear vision for the Rockies, and after nearly seven seasons as General Manager I believe it is time for someone else to help lead that vision.”

The Harvard-educated Bridich joined the organization in 2004 and rose through the ranks. He was named senior director of baseball operations in `06 and later held the position of senior director of player development. He was promoted to general manager in October 2014.

“Over the last week, Jeff, Greg and I determined that it was in the best interest of Jeff, his family and the Rockies, for him to step down as general manager,” Monfort said in a statement. “I’m saddened by this, but I have accepted the fact that we must move on. … I’m grateful for his leadership, professionalism and hard work. I wish Jeff and his family nothing but the very best.”

Under Bridich, the club made the playoffs as a wild card in 2017 and `18. It’s the only time in franchise history the Rockies have made back-to-back postseason appearances.

And this seemed to signal another big commitment to winning: The Rockies locked up Arenado – the face of the franchise – with a $260 million, eight-year deal in February 2019. But it didn’t take long for things to turn sour with Bridich and the front office. Arenado wasn’t pleased with the direction of a team that missed the postseason in `19 and again last season.

Arenado, an eight-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star, was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals on Feb. 1 for Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers in a deal that was criticized across the baseball community. As part of the trade, the Rockies agreed to pay St. Louis $51 million of the $199 million remaining on Arenado’s contract at the time. Arenado’s contract was amended after he was traded.

The trade of Arenado drew the ire of Rockies fans, with hashtags such as “(hash)RockiesBoycott” and “(hash)FireBridich” popping up on social media. Bridich also dealt Troy Tulowitzki – another fan favorite – to Toronto in 2015 for a package of players that included Jose Reyes.

Bridich’s signings over the years have included Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond, along with relievers such as Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis.

“Working in professional baseball is not just a job, it’s a round-the-clock lifestyle,” Bridich said. “There are innumerable people in the Rockies organization who are committed to that lifestyle, and I want to thank all of those folks for their volume of work, their care and concern for each other and their collective belief in the organization.

“Finally, a big THANK YOU to Rockies fans for loving our players and for consistently showing up in support of the team through thick and thin.”

The Rockies have another big decision looming with All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. He appears in line for a sizeable payday, too, after San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. finalized a $340 million, 14-year contract and Francisco Lindor agreed to a $341 million, 10-year deal with the New York Mets.

On Monday, the Rockies named Feasel team president in addition to his role of being in charge of the club’s business operations. His duties include overseeing the organization’s involvement in the All-Star Game set for July after it was recently moved to Coors Field.

Rockies manager Bud Black referenced how hard being a GM is every day of the year – and that Bridich was present and focused on the team even earlier Sunday, before later alerting Black he would step aside.

“Jeff indicated that the Rockies and those of us downstairs in uniform are in a good place and basically he felt it was time,” Black said.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.