Power Ranking Every MLB Team's Front Office
Every front office in Major League Baseball has the same basic two-pronged function: build competitive teams without wasting too much of the owner's money.
As for which front offices are the best at what they do, we figured we'd rank them.
We only considered what front offices have done under their current leadership. Even if they're attached to successful franchises, this naturally pushed newer and as yet unaccomplished regimes to the back.
Otherwise, we weighed each front office through such things as:
- Drafting and developing
- Free-agent signings
- Contract extensions
- Implementation of analytics
We looked at the totality of each front office's history but ultimately gave more weight to their more recent track records. In essence, we wanted to narrow things down to the front office we would pick right now if we had to choose just one to run a franchise.
Let's count 'em down.
30-26: Astros, Red Sox, Pirates, Mets, Giants
30. Houston Astros
General Manager: James Click since January 2020
After all the success—including three 100-win seasons and a World Series championship in 2017—that they had under Jeff Luhnow, it feels weird to think so lowly of the Houston Astros front office. But after Luhnow was ousted as a result of the club's sign-stealing scandal, the club had to go in a new direction.
Given that he cut his teeth under Andrew Friedman and Erik Neander in the Tampa Bay Rays front office, James Click should work out as Houston's new GM. Yet until he does something to put his stamp on the organization, there's no assuming that he'll replicate Luhnow's success.
29. Boston Red Sox
Chief Baseball Officer: Chaim Bloom since October 2019
After first coming aboard in August 2015, Dave Dombrowski had built the Boston Red Sox into a 108-win juggernaut and World Series winner by 2018. But after all sorts of things went south in 2019, he was let go before the season was even over.
Boston's ownership made a deft hiring when they lured Chaim Bloom from the Rays but also undercut him with a mandate to reset the club's luxury tax penalties. That led to the much-derided trade of Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, which now looks like the first move of a rebuild.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates
General Manager: Ben Cherington since November 2019
The Pittsburgh Pirates had some good times under Neal Huntington, including three straight postseason runs between 2013 and 2015. But as the wins dried up and the team's clubhouse went to rot, the Pirates rightfully axed Huntington last October.
In Ben Cherington, the Pirates chose a replacement who notably built the 2013 Red Sox squad that won the World Series. Yet it's his rebuilding skills that will be tested in Pittsburgh, so perhaps it's not a great omen that his trade of Starling Marte brought back an underwhelming return.
27. New York Mets
General Manager: Brodie Van Wagenen since October 2018
The New York Mets raised eyebrows when they hired Brodie Van Wagenen as their GM two years ago, and not altogether in a good way. He had previously been an agent, giving rise to questions about possible conflicts of interest.
Van Wagenen hasn't done a whole lot to endear himself to Mets fans since then. Though Jacob deGrom's extension and the J.D. Davis trade are points in his favor, the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade is but one of too many bad decisions. He also botched his handling of Yoenis Cespedes' opt-out.
26. San Francisco Giants
President of Baseball Operations: Farhan Zaidi since November 2018
When the San Francisco Giants fired general manager Bobby Evans in September 2018, they effectively moved on from the leadership that had built three World Series winners. In subsequently hiring Farhan Zaidi, they pivoted to someone who had forged a strong track record with the Dodgers and Oakland Athletics.
Stealing Mike Yastrzemski from the Baltimore Orioles is by far Zaidi's biggest victory since arriving in San Francisco. Yet he's thus far avoided an aggressive restructuring of what he inherited, resulting in a diminished major league roster and a farm system that's only risen to the level of mediocrity.
25-21: Marlins, Tigers, Orioles, Phillies, Mariners
25. Miami Marlins
President of Baseball Operations: Mike Hill since September 2007
The Miami Marlins have been the worst team in baseball since 2008, yet only so much of that can be blamed on Mike Hill's leadership. He worked for years under a cheap and enigmatic owner in Jeffrey Loria, and was immediately charged with rebuilding when Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman took over in 2017.
It's easy to point to the Christian Yelich trade as Hill's big failure. Yet he did get good players back for Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto, and he did well to move the bulk of Giancarlo Stanton's massive contract. The Marlins now have a top-five farm system and plenty of payroll space. Assuming Jeter and Sherman are willing to spend more than Loria, such things should portend a bright future in Miami.
24. Detroit Tigers
General Manager: Al Avila since August 2015
Despite the writing on the wall that said it was time to rebuild, the Detroit Tigers were still in win-now mode when Al Avila took over as their GM five years ago. Following a disappointing turn in 2016, it wasn't until 2017 that Avila got the green light to rebuild.
He should have gotten more in trades of Justin Verlander, Justin Upton and Nick Castellanos, and he definitely should have accepted Alex Bregman or Javier Baez in a deal for Michael Fulmer in 2017. Avila has nonetheless steadily constructed MLB's No. 6 farm system, which is notably headlined by No. 1 picks Casey Mize and Spencer Torkelson.
23. Baltimore Orioles
General Manager: Mike Elias since November 2018
After a brutal 115-loss season in 2018, the Baltimore Orioles hired Mike Elias to give them an Astros-style makeover. As in, tear down what's left of the big club and build a new contender around a core of homegrown stars.
Apart from the Yastrzemski trade, this effort is going well. Largely thanks to the drafting of Adley Rutschman in 2019, Baltimore's farm system has improved from No. 18 to No. 11 under Elias. There's also been progress in the majors, where Hanser Alberto, Rio Ruiz and Renato Nunez are budding stars.
22. Philadelphia Phillies
General Manager: Matt Klentak since October 2015
The Philadelphia Phillies went to five straight postseasons between 2007 and 2011. But by the time Matt Klentak took over their front office, the club had already missed its best rebuilding window in the process of sinking to the bottom of the National League East.
This is where we should be crediting Klentak for establishing and building around a core of homegrown talent. Trouble is, such a core didn't really materialize before Klentak forced a return to contention with trades for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto and big contracts for Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta and Andrew McCutchen. The result is a volatile roster that could have Klentak on the hot seat before long.
21. Seattle Mariners
General Manager: Jerry Dipoto since September 2015
If nothing else, things definitely haven't been boring for the Seattle Mariners since Jerry Dipoto took charge of their front office. Yet his numerous trades haven't resulted in regular wins, as the club is below .500 on his watch.
On the plus side, Dipoto deserves credit for building the second-best farm system in baseball. Notably, his best move was getting Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in the Cano/Diaz trade. He also drafted and developed Kyle Lewis, and traded for fellow budding star J.P. Crawford. Given how much payroll space he's freed up, Dipoto should also get to have some fun in free agency in the near future.
20-16: Rockies, Reds, Blue Jays, Angels, White Sox
20. Colorado Rockies
General Manager: Jeff Bridich since October 2014
Under Jeff Bridich's leadership, the Colorado Rockies went to back-to-back postseasons for the first time in their history in 2017 and 2018. However, he inherited those teams' stars—Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, Kyle Freeland and Jon Gray—from Dan O'Dowd.
Bridich's own hits include extensions for Arenado and Blackmon, as well as a trade and extension for German Marquez. His misses cover a disastrous splurge on relievers during the 2017-18 offseason, plus a similarly fruitless deal with Ian Desmond. But especially in light of the club's 3.42 ERA and 6-2 road record, the 2020 season is on track to redeem Bridich's heretofore rocky tenure in Colorado.
19. Cincinnati Reds
President of Baseball Operations: Dick Williams since November 2015
The Cincinnati Reds missed their chance at an expedited rebuild under Walt Jocketty, leaving Dick Williams to basically start from scratch ahead of the 2016 season. But rather than play the long game, Williams' maneuvers over the last two years have largely been designed to force Cincinnati back into contention.
It reflects well on Williams that the Reds' three aces—Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer—were acquired in trades. He's also responsible for drafting Nick Senzel and signing Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas. Factoring in extensions for Gray and Eugenio Suarez, Williams really just needs the team's results to reflect the good work that his front office has done.
18. Toronto Blue Jays
General Manager: Ross Atkins since December 2015
Though the Toronto Blue Jays went to the American League Championship Series in Ross Atkins' first season on the job in 2016, that club was built around the same core—i.e., Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion—that had been put in place by Alex Anthopoulos.
However, it's largely to Atkins' credit that Toronto is already on the verge of contending again after entering into a rebuild in 2017. He drafted Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Nate Pearson, and oversaw the bulk of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s development. By adding Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson, he also made good on his promise to remake the club's rotation last winter.
17. Los Angeles Angels
General Manager: Billy Eppler since October 2015
Though they won 98 games in 2014 and 85 games in 2015, the Los Angeles Angels have yet to have a winning season since Billy Eppler replaced Jerry Dipoto. Part of that has to do with how the organization's struggle to develop pitching talent has continued under him.
Yet Eppler is responsible for drafting and developing rookie outfielder Jo Adell, as well as signing Shohei Ohtani as an amateur free agent. He's also been active on both the trade (Andrelton Simmons and Dylan Bundy) and free-agent (Anthony Rendon) markets. If all goes well, these efforts will ensure that Mike Trout wins a World Series or two before his mega-extension runs out.
16. Chicago White Sox
General Manager: Rick Hahn since October 2012
Ken Williams is still a part of the Chicago White Sox front office, but Rick Hahn has been calling the shots as the club's GM for almost eight years. The White Sox have yet to have even one winning season under his watch, and his trade of Fernando Tatis Jr. will forever be a stain on his legacy.
Yet things are looking up for the White Sox now because Hahn has cultivated a contending core through the draft (Tim Anderson), international signings (Jose Abreu and Luis Robert), trades (Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez) and free-agent signings (Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion and Dallas Keuchel). In time, their example could become the de facto ideal for how to rebuild.
15-11: Padres, Diamondbacks, Atlanta, Twins, Rangers
15. San Diego Padres
General Manager: A.J. Preller since August 2014
After coming aboard in 2014, A.J. Preller immediately attempted to turn the San Diego Padres into a contender with an offseason haul of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Craig Kimbrel. That backfired, and he was further embarrassed in 2016 by a 30-day suspension for a corrupted trade with the Red Sox.
Yet the Padres' decision to stand by Preller is paying off now. In addition to spending big bucks on Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer and Drew Pomeranz, he's scored big on trades for Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack and Trent Grisham. Given that Preller also isn't done harvesting talent from baseball's No. 4 farm system, the Padres may be about to experience sustained success for the first time in a long time.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks
General Manager: Mike Hazen since October 2016
When the Arizona Diamondbacks hired Mike Hazen, they were five years removed from their last playoff run and coming off a 93-loss season. He promptly had them back in the playoffs in 2017, and two more winning seasons followed in 2018 and 2019.
Hazen has a stellar trade history that includes deals for Ketel Marte, Starling Marte, J.D. Martinez, Eduardo Escobar, Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly, plus a money-saver that sent Zack Greinke to Houston. He's also extended K. Marte, Escobar and David Peralta. All he needs now is for his 2020 club to live up to its potential, starting with big-ticket signee Madison Bumgarner.
General Manager: Alex Anthopoulos in November 2017
After a brief stint with the Dodgers, Alex Anthopoulos took the controls of Atlanta's rebuild in 2017 and had it back in the playoffs the following year. The club was back again in 2019, and it's now on track for a third straight playoff appearance in 2020.
Anthopoulos inherited many of the great players who are now driving the team's success. But he gets points for extending Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, as well as for trades that have brought in the likes of Mark Melancon, Shane Greene and Adam Duvall. And between Josh Donaldson in 2019 and Marcell Ozuna this year, he's building a rep for winning one-year gambles on veteran free agents.
12. Minnesota Twins
President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey since November 2016
The Minnesota Twins hired Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine as a package deal in 2016. After losing 103 games that year, the Twins made the playoffs in 2017 and have since planted themselves atop the American League Central.
Including Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jose Berrios, today's Twins are built on a foundation that was laid down by the club's previous front office regime. Yet Falvey and Levine's signing of Nelson Cruz was a stroke of genius, and Josh Donaldson was merely the centerpiece of a busy 2019-20 offseason. It's also under their leadership that the Twins have become the poster boy for launch angle.
11. Texas Rangers
President of Baseball Operations: Jon Daniels since October 2005
Whenever his time with the Texas Rangers is over, Jon Daniels should be fondly remembered for building World Series clubs in 2010 and 2011. That mainly involved making great trades (Josh Hamilton) and signings (Adrian Beltre) and generally instituting a winning culture.
However, Daniels' front office has been largely unable to conjure new magic over the last decade. It's all well and good that he drafted and developed Joey Gallo and signed Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, yet the modern Rangers are nonetheless thin on talent in both the majors and in their farm system. If that remains the case for much longer, a leadership change may be inevitable.
10. Kansas City Royals
President of Baseball Operations: Dayton Moore since May 2006
The Kansas City Royals went nearly 30 years without a playoff berth, from 1986 and 2013, during which a central dilemma became clear: How do you contend when your market supports only so much payroll?
Dayton Moore had the answers.
After taking office in 2006, he made the club's farm system into the best in MLB by 2011. Out of that came Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera. Moore further boosted his core with trades for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, James Shields and Wade Davis.
The Royals also innovated under Moore. He tailored them to the challenges of Kauffman Stadium by constructing an elite defense and a lineup full of contact hitters. The three-headed monster of Holland, Davis and Herrera also provided the model for teams to follow with their bullpen construction.
All this led the Royals to the World Series in 2014 and then to a championship in 2015. And while Moore does deserve some blame for the club's .429 winning percentage since 2016, he is also back to rebuilding the club's farm system.
9. Milwaukee Brewers
President of Baseball Operations: David Stearns since September 2015
David Stearns has put some black marks on his record since he joined the Milwaukee Brewers five years ago. His trade of Khris Davis backfired, and the early returns on his deal of Trent Grisham aren't great.
But if nothing else, Stearns will always have the Christian Yelich swap.
All Yelich has done since arriving in Milwaukee in 2018 is win an MVP while authoring a .320/.409/.624 slash line with 84 home runs and 52 stolen bases. He's the No. 1 reason why Brewers made it to the National League Championship Series in '18, and he carried them for much of another run to the postseason in 2019.
Stearns was also able to extend Yelich in March, adding to a strong spending record that includes free-agent deals with Lorenzo Cain, Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas. He hasn't had much time to draft or develop players, yet his wins in those departments include Keston Hiura and arguably Josh Hader, whose transformation from iffy starter to shutdown reliever might not have happened under different leadership.
Factor in how Craig Counsell has embraced a creative managing style under Stearns, and there are many good reasons why the Brewers have won more than they've lost since 2017.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
General Manager: Erik Neander since November 2016
The party might have ended after Andrew Friedman left the Rays front office in 2014. But Erik Neander was one of his proteges, and he's spent the last three seasons continuing the Rays way of generating wins by whatever means necessary.
Innovation is part of that, and it's to this extent that Neander and manager Kevin Cash deserve credit for popularizing the "opener." Ever since Sergio Romo made the first of back-to-back starts May 19, 2018, Rays hurlers trail only two clubs bullpens with their 3.60 ERA.
Neander has otherwise used the trade market to outfit the Rays with Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Anderson, Trevor Richards, Hunter Renfroe and Yandy Diaz. He also scored a rare free-agent victory with the signing of Charlie Morton. Meanwhile, super-prospect Wander Franco headlines MLB's No. 1 farm system.
Such things explain how the Rays have won 195 games since 2018—as well as why they're likely to remain competitive for years to come.
7. St. Louis Cardinals
President of Baseball Operations: John Mozeliak since October 2007
This year marks John Mozeliak's 13th season as the head of the St. Louis Cardinals. In all that time, his clubs have racked up the third-best winning percentage in the league.
The peak of that experience was 2011, when the Cardinals won the World Series on the backs of stars Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Chris Carpenter, whom Mozeliak inherited. Yet it was Mozeliak's front office that secured Matt Holliday and David Freese for that team.
The Cardinals have made the playoffs five more times since. Keeping Adam Wainwright around via various contracts has helped. The Cards have also developed homegrown talents such as Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Kolten Wong, Paul DeJong, Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty.
More recent bumbles such as the Tommy Pham, Luke Voit and Paul Goldschmidt trades and the signings of Brett Cecil and Dexter Fowler have reduced the shine of the Cardinals under Mozeliak. It's likewise a bad look that he punted on adding much-needed offense in the offseason.
Even still, last year's run to the NLCS provided him with a good excuse not to panic. And at the end of the day, his track record still elevates his leadership above that of other front-office heads.
President of Baseball Operations: Chris Antonetti since October 2010
It took a couple of years for Chris Antonetti to craft an identity for Cleveland after assuming control of its front office in 2010. But since 2013, Cleveland has won more games than any other American League team.
While Antonetti inherited stars Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley, he is responsible for drafting Francisco Lindor and Cody Allen, developing Jose Ramirez and Corey Kluber and trading for Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Andrew Miller and Yan Gomes.
All those players were part of the team that came within one win of an elusive World Series title in 2016. Antonetti likewise tabbed Terry Francona to manage that squad, and Francona's willing reception of the front office's analytical analyses had much to do with the team's success.
More recently, Antonetti has been tasked with keeping the wins coming even as ownership has cut payroll. It's been so far, so good largely thanks to pitchers developed from within, namely Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and James Karinchak.
This speaks to a larger theme of Antonetti's leadership: High payrolls and high winning percentages don't necessarily go hand in hand.
5. Chicago Cubs
President of Baseball Operations: Theo Epstein since October 2011
If you had asked us four years ago, we undoubtedly would have tabbed the Chicago Cubs' Theo Epstein-led front office as the very best in Major League Baseball.
The Cubs were in need of a rebuild when he came to town in 2011, and he delivered by drafting Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, developing Javier Baez, trading for Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman and signing Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey.
With help from manager Joe Maddon, these moves paved the way to a 97-win season in 2015 and then a 103-win campaign in 2016 that culminated in a long-awaited World Series victory. Two more postseason trips followed in 2017 and 2018.
As they fell from grace in 2019, the Cubs' struggle to develop pitching talent and general decline into something resembling indifference were laid bare. Yet there was also bad luck involved, and the Cubs are thus far collecting on outstanding good luck in 2020.
Is Epstein's best work on the North Side in the past? Probably, but for now he still deserves credit for the majors' third-highest winning percentage since 2015.
4. Oakland Athletics
Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations: Billy Beane since October 1997
It's all about exploiting market inefficiencies, which in the early days meant doing thinks like savoring on-base percentage and neglecting stolen bases. Of course, it also helped that the A's had Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez.
The low point of Beane's tenure was 2007 to 2011. But after arriving early to the air-ball revolution, the A's were back in the playoffs in 2012 and have made four more trips to October since.
Thanks to Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano, the A's have gone old-school by eschewing defensive shifts in favor of ol' fashioned good glovework since 2018. These guys and Khris Davis have also hit for a bunch of power, while the Oakland staff has been boosted by trade acquisitions Mike Fiers, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Liam Hendriks and Jesus Luzardo.
To be sure, manager Bob Melvin has done a masterful job of pushing buttons over the last 10 years. But without the influence of Beane's front office, he would surely have fewer to push.
3. Washington Nationals
General Manager: Mike Rizzo since March 2009
In more than a decade under Mike Rizzo's stewardship, the Washington Nationals haven't exactly sought to reinvent the wheel as far as how they play the game.
His approach has been more straightforward: Find good players and let them play.
This has meant drafting and developing Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon as well as signing and quickly promoting Juan Soto. It's also meant spending in free agency, where the club's wins include Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy and Howie Kendrick.
Though it's easy to cringe at trades of Lucas Giolito and Jesus Luzardo, Rizzo's front office also scored in numerous swaps. Of the bunch, Mike Morse, Wilson Ramos, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, Doug Fister, Adam Eaton, Sean Doolittle and Trea Turner stand out.
These players and more have buoyed the Nats to baseball's third-best record since 2012, not to mention five postseason berths and a World Series championship. Even if its approach hasn't been revolutionary, the front office responsible for all this must nonetheless get its just deserts.
2. New York Yankees
General Manager: Brian Cashman since February 1998
How have the New York Yankees won 2,108 games and four World Series under Brian Cashman's watch? Well, the easy answer—"It's the money"—has merit.
The Yankees have routinely operated with the league's highest payroll, which for many years had to do with high-priced free agents Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury. More recently, their nigh-limitless funds have permitted a trade for Giancarlo Stanton and the signing of Gerrit Cole.
And yet Cashman made a name for himself in the 1990s as one of the architects of New York's championship-winning core of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. In recent seasons, the Yankees have returned to those roots.
They developed Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances and Miguel Andujar from within and also traded for Gleyber Torres while he was a prospect. The Yankees have molded unheralded hitters such as DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, Luke Voit and Gio Urshela into stars, and their bullpen has been baseball's best since 2017.
The New York front office gets yet another gold star for the hiring of manager Aaron Boone, who refused to let even frequent injuries block the team's way to consecutive 100-win seasons in 2018 and 2019.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
President of Baseball Operations: Andrew Friedman since October 2014
The Los Angeles Dodgers were already a powerhouse when they hired Andrew Friedman, but his job was more or less to flip the switch on their success from "unsustainable" to "sustainable."
In fairness to the Dodgers' previous regime, Friedman got to take over a farm system that already featured Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Julio Urias. Yet he shepherded each of them to stardom and also did the same with 2015 first-rounder Walker Buehler.
Despite occasional gripes that the Dodgers are overprotective of their prospects, trades for stars such as Yu Darvish, Manny Machado and Mookie Betts push back against that notion. And despite the club's big payrolls, only Betts has gotten a nine-figure deal from Friedman.
He's been just as effective signing mid-range free agents Justin Turner, Rich Hill and AJ Pollock (and resigning Kenley Jansen), and he's also dug up some surprise stars in Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez.
All this is a window into how the Dodgers were baseball's best team from 2015 to 2019. They're now arguably the favorite to win this year's World Series, and they also boast surprisingly clean books and a top-10 farm system. In short, Friedman has them set up to keep winning for a long time.