General managers are a very important figure in MLB these days.
They put together rosters, make trades, are in charge of player development, scouting, analytics, and a myriad of things.
These three are the gold standard in MLB.
3. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the most advanced organizations in baseball when it comes to talent evaluation and player development.
Last year, they took the American League East division with seven games to spare and advanced all the way to the World Series.
This year, they are also in the thick of the playoff race in a difficult division.
Much of the recent success Tampa has had is because of his forward-thinking front office, led by executive Erik Neander.
Neander has achieved lots of things at his young age of 37.
He has been with Tampa since 2007, when he joined as an intern.
In 2016, he was named both senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager of the team.
Much of the framework of the organization was more of a team effort, but he has maintained a really strong farm and a competitive major league team.
He has a knack for making the right moves at the right time.
After a six-game losing streak that is currently ongoing, his organization is calling up the most exciting prospect in minor league baseball, Wander Franco.
Tampa has the tools to compete for a long time even with a tight payroll, and part of that is thanks to Neander.
2. A.J. Preller, San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres have been preparing for years to compete, and now look like a well-oiled machine.
For years, general manager A.J. Preller, who has been in charge since 2014, has worked to inject as much talent to the franchise as possible.
Under his watch, the Padres have remained heavily involved in the international free agents market, and have drafted well.
Those two situations, together with trades, helped Preller put together perhaps the best and deepest MLB farm system in 2018 and 2019.
That system was debilitated in 2020 and 2021, but for a good cause: the Padres have acquired high-end, win-now talent to complement the flurry of youngsters.
He has also acquired some quality offensive pieces.
150 games into his career and Trent Grisham has posted a WAR of 5.5
AJ Preller acquired Grisham in exchange for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer pic.twitter.com/yv8Jduxf4O
— CirclinTheBases (@CirclinTheBases) June 16, 2021
The Padres look like a powerhouse for years to come, and Preller is a big reason why.
1. Andrew Friedman, Los Angeles Dodgers
For a few years now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been the model organization of MLB.
Even before the 2017 season, when they advanced to the World Series and lost to the Houston Astros, you could see something big brewing in town.
The Dodgers have been in three of the last four World Series, and part of that is because of Andrew Friedman, who is currently the Dodgers’ de facto GM.
The Dodgers resurrected careers, such as Justin Turner’s, and bought crucial pieces for pennies of the dollar.
Of course, Friedman also traded for megastar Mookie Betts and signed him to a huge extension.
BREAKING: The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox that would send star outfielder Mookie Betts and starter David Price to the Dodgers, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Deal is pending medical reviews.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 5, 2020
He knows what he likes and doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice pieces to get it.
That earned the Dodgers lots of division titles, three pennants, and a World Series title.