Top 10 General Managers in All of Baseball

Gabe Goralnick ranks the top GMs in MLB.

There is no doubt that you have to be really good at your job to become a general manager of a Major League Baseball team; there are countless people seeking just 30 positions. All 30 general managers are for the most part good at their jobs, but there are 10 that truly stand out above all others.

Before getting started, it must be clarified that for the purposes of this article, the general manager of a team is the person who is considered to be in charge of the front office, and not necessarily the person who has the title of general manager.

 

The Top 10 General Managers

 

1. Brian Cashman

Senior VP and General Manager: New York Yankees

Brian Cashman is the longest-tenured general manager in baseball for a reason. Since he took over before the 1998 season, the Yankees have made the playoffs 21 times, winning four World Series titles and six pennants. Perhaps even more impressive than the title wins is the fact that the Yankees have not experienced a single losing season throughout Cashman’s tenure. Although it is true that the Yankees have been in the top tier of spenders during all those years, it is also true that a high payroll does not necessarily lead to winning. Spending is one thing, but choosing who to, and who not to, spend the money on is another thing.

One notable time Cashman spent a significant amount of money and it directly paid off was when he handed a combined $423.5 million to CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and AJ Burnett. New York almost immediately saw the fruit of Cashman’s labor when those three players were instrumental in New York’s 2009 World Series run.

 

2. John Mozeliak

President, Baseball Operations: St. Louis Cardinals

John Mozeliak joined the Cardinals in 1997. Around a decade later, he was promoted to be the team’s general manager. Since he took over, the team has finished every season above .500, made 10 postseasons, won the NL Central six times, and earned one World Series title. Sustained success is hard, no matter how many resources a team may have, but Mozeliak has accomplished it despite not always having the most flexible budget.

 

3. Andrew Friedman

President, Baseball Operations: Los Angeles Dodgers

Similar to Cashman, Andrew Friedman has been dealt with an extremely flexible budget and has translated that, along with great moves and player development, into a consistently competitive product. The Dodgers have one World Series title, three pennants, and seven NL West titles during Friedman’s tenure. Friedman has built one of the winningest products in baseball. He has done so all while maintaining a farm system that ranked #2 in MLB.com’s latest rankings.

 

4. Dave Dombrowski

President, Baseball Operations: Philadelphia Phillies

After a short-lived stint as GM of the Montreal Expos, Dombrowski embarked on his journey to his first ring when he was hired as the Florida Marlins’ first GM. The Marlins won the World Series in Dombrowski’s fifth season as GM. After selling off so many of his players, he parted ways with the Marlins and was then hired to take over the Tigers’ front office. He brought the Tigers to five playoff berths and two World Series appearances throughout 13 seasons. Since then he has won a World Series in Boston and reached the World Series in his third year with the Phillies. Dombrowski’s tactics may be questioned at times, but one thing is for sure: where Dombrowski goes, winning follows.

 

5. Alex Anthopolous

President, Baseball Operations, and General Manager: Atlanta

When most baseball fans think about getting their favorite team’s young players extended, they will most definitely point to how Alex Anthopolous handles his young talent. Since joining Atlanta and assuming the general manager role following the 2017 season, Athopolous has built a team that has earned five straight NL East titles in addition to a World Series title. Much is still to be seen, but what Anthopolous has built is undoubtedly a league-wide model for sustained success.

 

6. Erik Neander

President, Baseball Operations: Tampa Bay Rays

There are few people that can build a highly successful baseball team with a relatively minuscule payroll, but Erik Neander is one of them. Neander got his start as an intern for the Rays in 2007 and is now entering his sixth season as the highest-ranking official on Tampa Bay’s baseball operations team.

Since 2019, with his limited financial resources, Neander has formed a club that has reached the postseason every year, won the AL East twice, won one AL pennant, and even won 100 games in 2021. All the while, he has still managed to maintain a great farm system having been ranked eighth in MLB.com’s August 2022 rankings.

 

7. Chris Antonetti

President, Baseball Operation: Cleveland Guardians

Chris Antonetti was first recruited to join Cleveland’s organization in 1999. He quickly rose through the ranks and was named general manager in 2010, then the team’s highest-ranking front office executive. He was then promoted to president of baseball operations five years later, maintaining the highest-ranked front office spot. In the mid-to-late 2010s, Antonetti built a dominant team that won three AL Central titles and nearly won a World Series. Now, after a very short rebuilding period, Antonetti suddenly managed to field a 92-win team, earning himself the Executive of the Year Award.

 

8. James Click

Former General Manager: Houston Astros

Despite being recently let go by Houston, James Click should be one of the most well-regarded general managers in baseball. After taking over the Astros front office amid heavy scrutiny due to the sign-stealing scandal, it took Click just one season of recovery before he brought his team back to the World Series. Based on the limited available information, Click was not let go from Houston for baseball reasons. He is bound to land on his feet in the near future and be hired to take over another team’s front office.

 

9. Mike Rizzo

President, Baseball Operations and General Manager: Washington Nationals

Rizzo took over Washington’s front office in 2009 and turned a barren farm system into one that aided in the team’s first-ever postseason berth within just four seasons. In drafting Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, Rizzo’s team made some stellar drafting decisions. Combined with some great moves in free agency as well, Rizzo built a team that played eight consecutive winning seasons, culminating in the franchise’s first World Series title.

Perhaps the best free agent deal of all time was inked between the Nationals, with Rizzo at their helm, and Max Scherzer. Max Scherzer was one of the best pitchers in baseball for all of the deal’s seven years making him well worth every penny of the $210 million.

 

10. Mike Elias

Executive VP and General Manager: Baltimore Orioles

Mike Elias has only been at the helm of the Orioles organization for four seasons, but in that short time, he has taken a 115-loss team and turned them into one set to contend for the foreseeable future. Most things can be wrong with an organization applied to Baltimore coming off of its 115-loss season. Elias came in and gutted a lot of the front office, mainly when it came to player development, and hired replacements he thought to be a much better fit. Those decisions appear to have worked out as the Orioles now find themselves with the #1-ranked farm system in baseball, per MLB.com. Elias still has a lot to prove, but what he has done in these short few years earned him a top-10 spot.

 

Featured Image by Matt Fletcher

Gabe Goralnick

A senior at Yeshiva University studying political science and a diehard baseball lover from the Big Apple. He's either watching baseball, writing about baseball, or cooking some awesome food.

2 responses to “Top 10 General Managers in All of Baseball”

  1. Jeff says:

    how can you have cashman as the #1 GM? when was the last time his team won a World Series? I’d take most of the other GMs on this list over him. Highly overrated. East Coast, NY bias!

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