Will Kuntz, not even 30 yet, knew how good he had it. As the Yankees manager of professional scouting, he reported to assistant GM Billy Eppler and had the ear of GM Brian Cashman, giving him a voice in the team's major moves for Mashiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and beyond.
"He had a seat at the table," Cashman said.
It was a dream job until Kuntz received a text during the Tanaka press conference in January. The 6-foot-6 Kuntz played basketball at Williams College and was already working in professional baseball, but he loved soccer. A buddy of his told him about the job as the Director of Player Relations for Major League Soccer.
"It was the one opportunity outside of baseball that would make me leave here," Kuntz said.
Kuntz cobbled together a resume for the first time in more than a decade and applied for the job. He got it and now will be working with a handful of MLS teams, managing their rosters, while doing prep work for the new collective bargaining agreement.
From there, despite going to law school at night, he rose up the Yankees' ranks, just one position below earning a full-fledged picture in the media guide, which goes to assistant GMs and above.
Before Kuntz took the MLS job, Cashman told him, he could have a long-term career in baseball. "He is an extremely talented guy," Cashman said.
But is he a loyal one? Some in Kuntz's own family have questioned that. It turns out, he grew up a die-hard Mets' fans, which his sisters never let him forget. So who will he root for now?
"I've been through too much to not want success for the Yankees and the people I am leaving," said Kuntz, who still roots for the Mets to do well. "So I'll just pray for no Subway Series."
Kuntz, though, doesn't sound as if he would change a thing as he picked up a World Series ring in 2009 and sounded extremely appreciative of the chance to go after the best players year after year.
Cashman said he has promoted Steve Martone, who had been the assistant of Baseball Operations, to Kuntz' position. Cashman first said Kuntz was leaving in article in the New York Post.