One week after the Dodgers' season ended with a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, the team shook up its front office by hiring Rays general manager and executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. The renowned sabermetrician will become the Dodgers president of baseball operations.
The move is undoubtedly a good one for a team that needed a change in its front office. With former GM Ned Colletti switching positions to be a senior advisor to Stan Kasten, the Dodgers' CEO and team president, Friedman will have the opportunity to hire a replacement of his choice to fill Colletti's spot.
Why it happened
The short answer is that just about every team in the majors would bring on Friedman in a heartbeat, and the Rays' recent struggles and the Dodgers' substantial payroll increase coincided at just the right time. Friedman brought the Rays to the World Series in 2008 with a payroll nearly $200 million short of what he could be working with in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers were pursuing Friedman as early as 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. While not exactly groundbreaking news, it shows that this didn't quite happen overnight.
Apparently, the move also didn't happen because of Colletti's failure to bring a title to Los Angeles, according to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne. That sounds like official team speak, but it's also believable. The move might not have been so much a result of Colletti's failure as the chance to bring on one of the brightest minds in the game. (The team's decision to keep Colletti as a high-ranking adviser indicates as much.) In other words, the Dodgers had an opportunity they couldn't pass up, and they made an offer Friedman couldn't refuse.
How it's going to work...
There are a lot of parallels to be drawn between this setup and the one in Chicago, in which president of baseball ops Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer work together to make moves.
Now, it's only a matter of who will become the Jed Hoyer of the Dodgers. The team created the position specifically for Friedman; giving him that power means management is confident he'll make the right decision.
There haven't been any rumors just yet as to who will become Hoyer's sidekick, but there has been some speculation of Joe Maddon, Friedman's manager in Tampa Bay, moving to the Dodgers himself when his contract expires in a year. He lives in the Los Angeles area during the offseason, and he probably wouldn't mind working with a Dodgers roster that figures to be far superior to that of the Rays next season.
Maddon told Shaikin that he wants "to continue to be a Ray, absolutely," which definitely throws a wrench in whatever potential visions the Dodgers had of bringing him over. (To be clear, there is nothing on that so far—purely speculation.) But to rule out the move would be foolish.
...Will it work?
Generally, the reaction to this move has been as follows: The rest of the NL West is in big trouble, and the rest of the AL East scored big time. For the most part, that's probably true.
Of course, it's not quite as night and day as it sounds. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman made an excellent point in his column earlier today: " Remember, when you have no money, it's much harder to make a big mistake," he wrote.
That's not to take anything away from Friedman (well, maybe it was—I can't read Heyman's mind), but with the payroll freedom comes the heightened scrutiny. When back-to-back playoff appearances (including coming two wins away from the World Series) is enough to create serious talk of a GM losing his job, you better create success fast if you're replacing that guy.
On the other side, the Rays still have a smart management team in place that was around for Friedman's tenure and will presumably continue to operate on the same principles that he established. Matt Silverman, who will take over the Rays' baseball operations in Friedman's absence, isn't exactly a shabby replacement.