Last week, the Tigers fired longtime general manager Al Avila. Every time there’s a front-office opening, a lot of names associated with the Dodgers come up in the discussion. In recent years, both the Giants and Braves filled GM vacancies with Dodgers executives — Farhan Zaidi in San Francisco and Alex Anthopoulos in Atlanta.
So with an opening in Detroit, it’s not surprising that some Dodgers names are coming up. According to Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic, at least four current members of the Dodgers front office are on the Tigers radar.
More than any particular background or experience level, the Tigers are likely to pursue a forward-thinking GM who knows how to run a modern organization. The Tigers will attempt to fill a void in their creativity, progressiveness and correct flaws in the overall way the club operates.
With “forward-thinking,” “creativity,” and “progressiveness” as priorities, it’s no surprise the Tigers are looking at the Dodgers. Let’s look at the names Stavenhagen mentions:
Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes is mentioned under the “established executives” category. As Stavenhagen writes:
There’s no better way to find such a GM than by going after someone who is already doing it, whether that be someone who is already running a team or someone who has a GM title but serves as a de facto No. 2 on a club with a higher-ranking president of baseball operations.
While Gomes certainly fits that bill, Stavenhagen thinks this one might be unlikely:
Gomes was elevated to the GM role under Friedman this past offseason after previously serving as one of the architects for the Dodgers’ vaunted player development system. Gomes’ promotion over the winter quelled reported interest from the Mets, and he may ultimately be unlikely to leave L.A. anytime soon.
Jeff Kingston is also under “established executives,” although his situation is a little different from that of Gomes. The Dodgers have plenty of assistant GMs, but there’s really only room for one GM (working under president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman), and with Gomes filling that GM role, Kingston might be open to moving.
Kingston is an assistant GM with the Dodgers and previously spent nine years in the Mariners’ front office. His name has been mentioned in other recent GM searches, and though he’s in a great spot with the Dodgers, teams are going to keep calling to see if he’s ready to run his own show.
Even diehard Dodger fans might not be familiar with Alex Slater, so it’s not surprising he’s in the “under the radar” category in Stavenhagen’s article. Slater was promoted to assistant GM at the same time Gomes was bumped from assistant to GM. He had worked in the scouting department for the Dodgers before becoming the director of baseball operations in 2017. Overall, the UC Berkeley alum has spent 14 years in the front offices of the Padres and Dodgers.
Stavenhagen mentions Josh Byrnes almost solely to dismiss the idea. In the section about people with ties to Tigers manager AJ Hinch, he writes this about Byrnes:
Dodgers exec Josh Byrnes is a natural consideration, but he and Hinch worked together before in both Arizona and San Diego. Both ultimately had more success on their own.
In the end, “brain drain” from the Dodgers front office is something we’ll need to get used to, with the Dodgers being a model franchise a lot of teams would love to emulate. Whether the Tigers end up hiring a Dodger remains to be seen, but the number of people from one front office being mentioned says a lot about what Friedman & Co. are doing in Los Angeles.
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