It might take a little while for new Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to hire a general manager. For one thing, there’s no rush. Free agency doesn’t start until after the World Series ends and the real action tends to center around the winter meetings in early December. The Dodgers have plenty of front office people, including outgoing GM Ned Colletti, to hold down the position until Friedman gets his feet on the ground in L.A.
Friedman is also going to need a little time to pack up and move his family, which includes two young children. That doesn’t sound easy.
So, while it may not be a front-burner issue, it’s never too early to examine some of the candidates he figures to take a look at:
ALEX TAMIN, Dodgers
Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said he was proud of the strides the organization has made in the past few years bringing their research and analytics department up to the standards of the industry. The man who has been running that effort, Alex Tamin, is one of the sharpest minds in the game when it comes to arbitration hearings, contract negotiations, 40-man roster management, rules and operations. Before the Dodgers hired him to replace Kim Ng in 2011, Tamin was practicing law and had worked for many major league teams preparing arbitration cases. He has a law degree from UCLA and is well-liked inside the Dodgers front office and clubhouse. Tamin is a good choice if Friedman wants some continuity, but their lack of personal connection might hurt the in-house candidate.
BILLY EPPLER, New York Yankees
He finished second to Jerry Dipoto when the Angels were hiring a GM in late 2011 and many people thought he was the frontrunner in San Diego before the Padres decided to go with A.J. Preller. Brian Cashman considers Eppler, 38, to be an integral part of his operation and promoted him when the Angels tried to hire him as their assistant GM.
“I look at Billy as being in a Russell Wilson situation, a guy that got picked later in the draft than he should have,” Cashman told the New York Post. “Billy is going to be extremely good at this position.”
Eppler has spent the past 15 years working his way up through the ranks of the Colorado Rockies (2000-2004) and Yankees. His background is mostly in analytics, but he also has experience on the scouting side and, unlike Preller, is well-known within the industry.
MIKE HAZEN, Boston Red Sox
He and Eppler were the runners-up in San Diego. Hazen is one of the candidates who best blends on-field, scouting and analytics backgrounds. He spent five seasons as Boston's director of player development, one season as vice president of player development and amateur scouting and, since 2011, has acted as an assistant general manager to Ben Cherington. He’s a Princeton grad and spent much of his career in player development, so he could help the Dodgers with one of their primary missions: continuing to improve the farm system.
DAVID FORST, Oakland A's
One of Friedman’s main attractions was the efficiency with which the Rays were able to assemble contending teams on shoestring budgets. The Dodgers are still willing to spend money, but they’re less willing to waste money. So why not make it a dream team, merging talent from two teams that re-invent themselves every year and, somehow, push themselves into the playoff picture at a fraction of what other teams spend? Forst, a former Harvard shortstop who grew up in Encino, Calif., has spent the last 10 seasons working with A’s general manager Billy Beane, the star of the book “Moneyball” and still a progressive thinker in the game. Forst has strong relationships with many of the young-gun GMs in baseball, including Cherington and the Chicago White Sox's Rick Hahn. He coordinates professional scouting and assists Beane in trades and contract negotiations.
DAN FEINSTEIN, Oakland A’s
Another of Beane’s assistants, Feinstein worked his way up from the A’s video coordinator to a prominent position in the front office. He oversees the pro scouts and has been in charge of installing the A’s cutting-edge computer systems, including hiring a programmer away from Tampa Bay. He worked closely with Friedman in Tampa Bay as director of baseball operations from 2005 to 2011. He was the Dodgers’ coordinator of baseball operations under Paul DePodesta in 2005. Most intriguing, he has a degree from UC Davis in medieval European history. That could come in handy dealing with the L.A. media.
BRYAN MINNITI, Washington Nationals
This name has probably gained too much early traction, considering some in the industry think he was forced out in Washington. Mostly, the timing just seemed too coincidental. As the Dodgers were rumored to be ready to replace Colletti, he abruptly resigned as assistant general manager of the Nationals, where he had been hired five years ago (when Kasten was Washington’s team president). According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Friedman interviewed Minniti for a job in Tampa Bay five or six years ago, but didn’t hire him. Minniti, 34, is among the youngest executives in baseball but already has 14 years of experience. He has been an assistant GM since he was 29. He handled contract negotiations and arbitration hearings, which would make him a good complement to Friedman if the latter decides to handle the high-profile trade and free-agent talks. It would also make Tamin redundant since those are his current duties on the Dodgers.