Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi are likely the first two people that come to mind when most fans think of the Dodgers front office.
However, there is a whole team and several departments that are charged with guiding the Baseball Operations staff towards the ultimate goal of assembling a world championship caliber team.
The architects of the 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers include an investment banker, Ph.D., data scientist, and former MLB pitcher, amongst other diverse backgrounds. The 21st century MLB front office demands a mix of skills and backgrounds as literally, millions are at stake every season for MLB owners.
Today’s front offices are data-driven and require a blend of experts, blending old-school scouting fused with new school analytics, to compete with the rest of league for players, value, and wins. The Dodgers have assembled a baseball think tank at the top which essentially divides traditional general manager duties across three executives who all have MLB GM experience–Friedman, Zaidi, and Josh Byrnes. Of course, Friedman is the head honcho, but decisions are not unilaterally made by Friedman.
The think tank lost its fourth member this past offseason, as another former GM, Alex Anthopolous, left the Dodgers to become GM of the Atlanta Braves. Of note, the Dodgers have two other former GMs on staff, as former Mets GM Gerry Hunsicker serves as an advisor to Friedman, while living legend Tommy Lasorda, who served as interim GM in 1998, is an advisor to Owner/Chairman Mark Walter.
Contrast the 2018 front office model with that of the last Dodgers World Series team, the 1988 edition. That front office was led by GM Fred Claire. A quick look at the 1988 Media Guide reveals Claire’s front office had approximately three baseball operations employees–yes, 3. The current Dodgers baseball operations front office has approximately forty-seven personnel. Yes, that’s right 47! These numbers do not include amateur, Pro, and MLB advance scouts nor minor league coaches and trainers. Times sure have changed.
Friedman leads baseball operations as President of Baseball Operations. Friedman is largely the final voice in player personnel matters. Friedman attended Tulane University where he played baseball until injuries derailed his collegiate stint. After college Friedman began a career as an investment banker for the firm Bear Stearns. The Tampa Bay Rays hired in Friedman in 2004 as a junior level executive, and only two years later Friedman became the Rays GM/Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations at the tender age of 29! Friedman is highly regarded in baseball as one of the more progressive thinkers in the game.
Zaidi holds the official “General Manager” title and focuses on MLB trades and signings, but is actually second in line to Friedman. Zaidi was born in Canada, raised in the Philippines, and is of Pakistani descent. Zaidi’s life was changed after he somewhat now famously read Moneyball, and applied for a job with the Oakland A’s while working on his Doctorate in economics at Berkeley. A’s GM Billy Beane hired Zaidi himself, and Zaidi enjoyed a long tenure in the A’s front office as the Director of Baseball Operations, where he pioneered baseball analytics with other members of the A’s front office. Shortly after Friedman came on board, he hired Zaidi as his GM in the 2014-2015 offseason.
Byrnes is third in line in the Dodgers front office as the Senior Vice-President of Baseball Operations. Byrnes is responsible for overseeing all player development and scouting operations. Byrnes served as the Arizona Diamondbacks GM from 2005-2010, and the San Diego Padres GM from 2011-2014. Byrnes was hired by Friedman in late 2014. Byrnes has spent 20+ years in baseball and nicely rounds out the analytically minded front office with his traditional scouting foundation.
David Finley is the Vice President of Amateur and International Scouting. Finley is responsible for overseeing the amateur scouting staff and international scouts. Finley spent 13 years in the Boston Red Sox organization and is highly regarded in scouting circles. Finley has increased the Dodgers international scouting efforts, and the organization nearly has scouts on every continent.
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Billy Gasparino is the Director of Amateur Scouting. Gasparino also was hired by Friedman and joined the team shortly after Friedman took over. Gasparino began his career scouting for the Toronto Blue Jays, then subsequently the Padres. Gasparino was the Padres Scouting Director in 2013 and 2014 before coming on board with the Dodgers. Gasparino’s most important duty in overseeing the amateur scouting department is responsibility for the Dodgers’ selections in the June Amateur Draft. Gasparino’s first Dodger Draft saw the Dodgers pick Walker Buehler with their first overall pick.
Galen Carr is the Dodgers Director of Player Personnel. Carr worked his way up through the Red Sox scouting ranks under Theo Epstein, and spent 2011-2014 as a Special Assignment Scout for the Red Sox until he left for the Dodgers along with Finley. Carr is leaned on for his scouting expertise.
Doug Fearing is the Director for Research and Development for the Dodgers and came on board shortly after Friedman took over. He is the guy who has ramped up the Dodgers analytics infrastructure and is well-credentialed as he has a Ph.D. from MIT. Fearing has grown the department and has numerous analysts and systems developers that work under his direction.
The newest member of this front office is Brandon Gomes, the new Director of Player Development, or “Farm Director”. Gomes spent 2011-2015 pitching for the Rays out of the bullpen. Gomes joined the Dodgers in 2016 as a Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Gomes is only 33 years old. The Dodgers will hope Gomes can continue the recent success the Dodgers farm system has had, evidenced by back to back NL Rookies of the Year.
The men profiled above represent the upper management of the Dodgers’ front office. However, there are numerous other staffers, analysts, minor league instructors, and scouts who work tirelessly year-round towards one goal, bringing the World Series championship back to Los Angeles.