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10 candidates to replace Dave Dombrowski as Red Sox head of baseball operations

Four internal and six external candidates headline the list of top executives who could fill Boston’s vacancy.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

We knew there would be several personnel moves across baseball this offseason, and we knew that Dave Dombrowski could certainly become unemployed. But the Red Sox’s move to fire Dombrowski in the middle of the season came as a bit of a surprise, especially considering Dombrowski was the first executive fired in the waning weeks of the season.

However, a change of pace and scenery can be quite beneficial for a team, so even if the recent move doesn’t bring magic to Boston’s final month of the season, it could make for a delightful offseason.

Here are 10 candidates who could replace Dombrowski in Boston. They are not ranked, but rather grouped/listed with the first four being the current interim replacements for Dombrowski, followed by six guys with Boston ties, including a longshot who would be a dream snag for the Red Sox. Each candidate also has grades for likelihood (out of 10) and how good of a fit they would be (out of 10).

Eddie Romero

Likelihood: 9
Ideal Fit: 9

Eddie Romero, presumably the leader of the quartet of interim replacements for Dombrowski, is already a top choice to lead the Red Sox beyond this year. Romero is in his first year of being Executive Vice President/Assistant General Manager after spending three years as Senior Vice President/Assistant General Manager. Romero has a solid background in development and scouting (he played a lead role in signing Rafael Devers), but has plenty of experience with day-to-day analytical and transactional moves, too.

Romero has been with the Red Sox since 2006 when he was an assistant in their scouting department.

Romero is most likely Boston’s best internal candidate, and arguably better than all external candidates who would consider an interview, too.

Zack Scott

Likelihood: 6
Ideal Fit: 7

Zack Scott, another one of Dombrowski’s four interim replacements, is also a candidate for the vacancy despite 2019 being his first year as Senior Vice President/Assistant General Manager. He has a large background in analytics, having spent countless hours and time providing decision support to baseball leadership in all areas and building software tools to deliver analytical insights and improve workflows. He also remains active in the categories of player acquisition, contract analysis, and strategic initiatives.

This is his 16th year with the Red Sox, but his 20th in baseball after being a developer of simulation software for Diamond Mind, Inc. from 2000 to 2003.

While he may be better off spending a few more years as an assistant, his significant knowledge and experience in contractual negotiations and other day-to-day operations is a major plus.

Brian O’Halloran

Likelihood: 7
Ideal Fit: 7

Brian O’Halloran, another interim in Boston at the moment, was named Executive Vice President/Assistant General Manager ahead of this season. That role required him to assist Dave Dombrowski in major league operations and strategy, including player acquisitions, contract negotiations, roster management, financial analysis, and MLB rule compliance. He also has experience in managing the day-to-day baseball and staffing operations.

O’Halloran has spent 18 seasons with the Red Sox, joining the organization in 2002 following a stint as an intern with the San Diego Padres.

Other than Romero, O’Halloran is probably Boston’s best internal candidate.

Raquel Ferreira

Likelihood: 4
Ideal Fit: 6

Raquel Ferreira is also one of the four interims filling the vacancy in Boston. (She’s the last one, I promise.) Her promotion following the firing of Dombrowski made her the highest female executive in baseball history, proving she is more than able to fill the role she is in. Ferreira was named Senior Vice President of Major and Minor League Operations ahead of this season, making 2019 her 21st year with the Red Sox.

Over her career with the Red Sox, Ferreira’s work has been focused on overseeing the baseball operations budgets and the club’s major and minor league operations. She also oversees the daily operations for the team’s major league clubhouse, as well as the daily operations for the organization’s six minor league affiliates, handling issues for all minor league players and staff such as contract tenders, player transactions, payroll, and insurance, per the Red Sox’s website.

In 2002, Ferreira was named the club’s Edward F. Kenney Award winner, which is annually given to a member of the Red Sox Player Development Department who demonstrates dedication, success, and work ethic befitting the man for which the award is named.

Mike Hazen

Likelihood: 4
Ideal Fit: 8

Time for the external candidates. This may be a bold one to begin with, but it’s quite possible the Red Sox reach out to Mike Hazen in an attempt to poach him from the Diamondbacks. Hiring the current D-backs GM would come with the extension of his job title, adding “President of Baseball Operations” to the label. Hazen is in his third season as Arizona’s Executive Vice President and General Manager.

In his first season leading the club’s baseball operations, the D-backs reversed their record from 69-93 in 2016 to 93-69 in 2017, reaching the postseason for the first time since 2011. His 2019 season has also been quite impressive, as Hazen was able to turn the team around and put them in a Wild Card race despite trading away Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke. Hazen has Boston ties: he spent 11 seasons (and two World Series championships) in various top executive roles with the Red Sox that included scouting and transactional duties.

He’d be a great fit to turn the Red Sox organization around — if he’s up for it.

Amiel Sawdaye

Likelihood: 6
Ideal Fit: 8

Hazen isn’t the only D-backs exec with Boston ties. Amiel Sawdaye, who has been Arizona’s Senior Vice President/Assistant General Manager for three years, also has a connection with the Red Sox. Currently overseeing all scouting operations and assisting in all baseball operations, Sawdaye got his start with the Red Sox, having an integral role in producing the likes of now-big league talents Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Matt Barnes, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Brandon Workman while winning three World Series championships in 15 years.

He began with the Red Sox in 2002 as an intern and moved up through the scouting ranks before being involved in all baseball operations.

Given the list of stars he has helped bring to Boston, it’s safe to say the Red Sox would welcome him back.

Jared Banner

Likelihood: 5
Ideal Fit: 7

Same Boston ties, different current organization. Jared Banner left the Red Sox organization just this past winter after being named the farm director of the Mets at the young age of 32. Banner rapidly climbed the ranks in Boston before his departure, having been involved in various drafts, trades, and signings, as well as the hiring of Alex Cora, in his more-than-a-decade-long tenure with the Sox that included him being on three championship-winning staffs.

Banner is young and there’s an argument to be made about his experience, but the trust that has been given to Banner over the past decade or so should not be overlooked. The Red Sox need a young(ish) executive to lead their team, and Banner not only brings youth, but would also bring a combination of scouting and analytical intelligence, plus a familiarity with the Red Sox, should he be hired by Boston.

Josh Byrnes

Likelihood: 4
Ideal Fit: 6

Josh Byrnes has Boston ties, too. (Do you see a pattern?) Byrnes, 49, is in his fifth year as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, a role that has seen him supervising the team’s scouting and player development. He previously worked as the General Manager/Executive Vice President for both the Diamondbacks (2005 to 2010) and Padres (2011 to 2014).

Byrnes’s total front office resume dates back to 1994, when he broke into front offices as a scout with the Indians, quickly making his way up the ranks into various leadership positions. In 1999, he became the Assistant General Manager of the Rockies and moved to the Red Sox in the same role for the 2003 to 2005 seasons, helping Boston win their 2004 World Series title.

Byrnes is a well-traveled man who has surely seen a lot between his six organizations (including four in the NL West). He didn’t have a major impact on the Red Sox in his first Boston stint, but there is reason to believe a second term would be quiet different.

Jason McLeod

Likelihood: 5
Ideal Fit: 10

If it weren’t for Theo Epstein being such a good general manager in Chicago, Jason McLeod would easily be the general manager of the Cubs. But Epstein is blocking him, so he remains the team’s Senior Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting. McLeod, who grew up in San Diego, spent time with current Giants manager Bruce Bochy when the two were together with the Padres. McLeod was in the scouting and player development department, a role he has been in for a while and won’t leave for a long time now.

McLeod eventually left for Chicago but found himself rejecting an interview to be the Padres’ general manager in 2014, citing unfinished business in Chicago. He was also involved in the Giants’ and Mets’ general manager searches in 2018 and the Twins’ search in 2016. McLeod has said publicly that the last few years have made him even better equipped to take on the role of a baseball operations boss.

He’d be a perfect fit for Boston — if only they could poach him from Chicago.

Tim Naehring

Likelihood: 3
Ideal Fit: 7

Tim Naehring is a former Red Sox player who now works in one of the smartest front offices in baseball. The problem? The front office he currently works in is that of the New York Yankees. Naehring was drafted by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the 1988 draft and made his debut just a couple years later. He was a talented third baseman and solid hitter. He hit .307 with 10 homers and 57 RBI for the Red Sox in 1995. The next season, he hit .288 and set career highs with 17 homer and 65 RBI. In his final year in 1997, a shoulder injury forced him to miss more than half the games that year, later retiring, but not before homering in his second-to-last at-bat.

Post-retirement, Naehring was hired as player development director by the Cincinnati Reds. He later was promoted to minor-league field coordinator, but eventually found himself being fired just one-and-a-half years in. He was hired by the New York Yankees as a scout in December 2007 and succeeded Billy Eppler as Vice President of Baseball Operations in 2015. He has held that role since, being part of various big moves for the always-dominant New York Yankees and learning under one of the best general managers in the industry.

Naehring is the biggest lonsghot on this list, but snagging him would be a big add for the Red Sox.