The Dodgers have what's widely considered to be one of the best front offices in MLB, and the full force of their power has been on display this offseason arguably more than ever before. "In Friedman we trust" is frequently used phrase among Dodgers fans for good reason.
Under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, LA has secured the offseason's biggest stars because they're unafraid to spend freely, but also because they've built a strong clubhouse culture, hire good people to support their players, and have a track record of winning.
LA's offseason additions have made headlines this offseason, but they're not stopping with the players they're going to put on the field. On Friday, they hired former MLB slugger Raúl Ibañez as vice president of player development and special projects. He'll leave a position with Major League Baseball as senior vice president of on-field operations and will rejoin the Dodgers after five years as a special assistant to Friedman within the Dodgers organization.
Why Dodgers fans should be excited about unexpected Raúl Ibañez hire
Ibañez was in the running for the Tampa Bay Rays' open managerial position in 2014, before he'd even officially announced his retirement, though he eventually stepped out of the race and the Rays hired Kevin Cash. He took a year off in 2015 before joining the Dodgers' front office for the first time (he was a special assistant to Friedman). With MLB, he worked on "issues related to rules, equipment and on-field technology" at a pivotal time when the league implemented a host of new rules, including the use of a pitch clock and a shift ban.
Ibañez is the third former player to be hired as part of the Dodgers' front office this offseason, joining Chris Archer and Nelson Cruz. The "special assistant" role he formerly held with the Dodgers is a widely used, sort of nebulous term in MLB front offices, but it means that he has a well-established relationship with Friedman and already has knowledge about how the Dodgers operate.
Also ... can his clutch bat of yesteryear trickle down to the rest of the roster?! Either way, Ibanez, who was rumored to be a candidate to take over as manager of the New York Yankees at one point, is a great baseball mind and has worked for this current Dodgers regime in the past.
The Dodgers have one of the highest-ranked farm systems in the league, but Ibañez, who also has experience in scouting, will come in to continue to improve it. He never won a World Series ring during his 19-year playing career, but he'll have a great shot at it as a member of the Dodgers front office this year as the team puts Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and Teoscar Hernández on the field for the first time in Dodger blue.