With Dave Dombrowski dumped in mid-September, the search for his successor is already underway.
So who might be sitting in the general manager’s box when the Red Sox open play next season? Here are six candidates to replace Dombrowski:
Eddie Romero, Red Sox
Of the four acting general managers, Romero would seem most likely to be elevated into the full-time gig.
Romero’s been with the Red Sox since 2006, and as such, has seen Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, and Dombrowski’s processes firsthand. As the director of international scouting, Romero spotted Rafael Devers as a 14-year-old and was instrumental in bringing him to Boston.
He’s a bright guy — Romero has a doctorate degree — and as a native of Puerto Rico, he meshes well with manager Alex Cora, too.
Mike Hazen, Diamondbacks
The exec who got away.
Hazen served as general manager under Dombrowski for a year, but then left for the Diamondbacks, where he’s turned a bargain-basement team into a contender.
Because Hazen is under contract, the Diamondbacks can deny him permission to talk to the Red Sox. But on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station, CEO Derrick Hall didn’t seem ready to stand in the way.
“I’m human and I realize he’s from there,” Hall said. “His family is from there, it was his childhood team — what a dream to work for them for over a decade. There’s a part of him that has a strong appeal toward that franchise. That’s human nature, I get it.
“If he were to come to me with that kind of a statement, that would mean first and foremost, that they have reached out, that they have expressed interest and he has an interest in pursuing it,” Hall said. “But at this point, I have not heard that from either side. I know he is so focused at the job at hand and the task at hand.”
Tim Naehring, Yankees
Brian Cashman’s right-hand man, Naehring defecting to Boston could add a little more spice to baseball’s most storied rivalry.
The longtime Red Sox infielder has been New York’s Vice President of Baseball Operations since 2015, and he admitted he’d answer if Boston came calling.
“You’d think about it,” Naehring told NJ.com. “Obviously, there are premier organizations out there and that’s one of them.”
Josh Byrnes, Dodgers
Another familiar face.
Long before Byrnes was helping to craft a juggernaut in Los Angeles, he served as Epstein’s assistant GM from 2003-2006, pretty substantial years in Red Sox history.
He then joined the Diamondbacks, Padres, and landed with the Dodgers, where he’s been Vice President of Baseball Operations since 2014 and has won six straight NL West titles.
Erik Neander, Rays
The Sox have certainly taken chances on whiz kids before, and the 36-year-old Rays general manager has impressed during his time in Tampa Bay.
John Henry has made it clear he’s looking for somebody with a long-term vision for sustainable success. Nobody has done more with less than the Rays.
The Tampa Bay front office has been particularly adept at identifying young talent. Their who-is-that trade deadline acquisition, Nick Anderson, has struck out 31 of the 52 batters he’s faced since joining Tampa.
Chris Mason, Eagle-Tribune
Well, if you take J.D. Martinez’s word, anyway. Remember this exchange from July?
“You’ve got to think of it like this: Writers want to be what?” Martinez asked.
Good question. What do writers want to be?
“They want to work where? They want to work in the front office,” Martinez opined. “They want to get jobs with teams and (expletive). These guys that do all the analytics and all the stuff like that.”
Thanks but no thanks. Running a front office seems like a whole lot of work. I’ll stick with the sports writing.
Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason