The role of GMs in baseball has really come a long way. Today, the general manager is responsible for hiring and firing coaching staff, including the head coach or field manager. A MLB team has many goals and objectives, some short-term and others long-term. Winning and being profitable are two of the most significant objectives. To accomplish these goals, they need a strong strategy and a thorough understanding of their revenue as well as revenue potential. This is where a General Manager comes into play.
A baseball GM has to understand the general goals and targets of ownership, and come up with exceptionally smart and savvy strategies to put the right team together. What makes Brian Cashman, Mike Rizzo, and Dan Duquette great? They each use their own approach while working, which has made them almost irreplaceable in their positions.
Here are their bios and the rest of the top five highest paid GMs in Major League Baseball.
1. Brian Cashman, New York Yankees – $3m a year
Brian Cashman has been the Yankees’ GM since 1998. Under his leadership, the club has won 6 American League pennants and 4 World Series championships. Before being promoted to General Manager, Cashman served as the assistant general manager between 1995 and 1997. The promotion happened by chance, especially considering that George Steinbrenner, the owner, had started pulling back from trying to control the day-to-day operations of the club.
His predecessors over the last two and a half decades had relatively short-lived tenures, and the trend was expected to continue with the then 31-year old Cashman. However, he proved to be quite a diamond in the rough, using the club’s vast resources to sign free agents while also carrying out several major trades. He often achieved this by taking advantage of the lack of financial flexibility by other teams. As such, instead of being fired, Cashman has secured his position by piloting the Yankees through one of its most eventful periods.
2. Mike Rizzo, Washington Nationals – $2.5 million a year
Since taking over the Washington Nationals in March 2009 as the GM, Mike Rizzo has managed to build the club into a powerhouse. Under his watch, Washington have made it a point to rack up regular season wins. During his tenure in the country’s capital, Rizzo has continued expanding his payroll steadily. When he first started in 2009, he was working with a budget of $60 million. Five years later, the figure had escalated to $137 million.
Once a scout, Mike Rizzo has really utilized the first round draft picks of the team, especially during his first two years when the club had the #1 overall selection. He snagged Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg in back to back seasons. He also managed to grab Anthony Rendon in 2011 to his draft.
3. Dan Duquette, Baltimore Orioles – $2 million a year
Technically, Dan Duquette’s position is the executive vice president of baseball operations. However, since the club does not have a general manager in its hierarchy, Duquette takes precedence as the main baseball some rather impressive results. During his first three years with Baltimore, Duquette led the club to 2 postseason appearances, even posting a .525 winning percent in the season it missed out. For a club as big as Baltimore Orioles, Duquette has had to work with a restricted payroll, a little more than $100 million since 2014.
Duquette has also been known to have a knack for finding underrated values in the free agent market. On February, 2014, for instance, he signed Nelson Cruz for a 1-year $8 million contract. The right- handed hitter went on to deliver forty home runs and assist the Orioles make their way to the AL East crown.
4. John Mozeliak , St. Louis Cardinals – About $2m a year
For the last five seasons, the St. Louis Cardinals have managed to progress to at least the National League Championship every time, making the club the model franchise in Major League Baseball. John Mozeliak, who has been the team’s General Manager since 2007, is mostly responsible for this success. Mozeliak’s secret has been a cautious free-agent spending and a flawless scouting record.
Under his guidance, St. Louis Cardinals have owned the amateur free agent and draft market, causing major contributors to flood to the Busch Stadium. Some of his most memorable signings include Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Kolten Wong, and Matt Carpenter, among others. Mozeliak has refrained from throwing around tremendous amounts of money in the free-agent front. During his reign in the club, the Cardinals have never exceeded $116 million in their opening payroll.
While Mozeliak does not have the ring collection of Sabean or Cashman, he has done more with less and established a squad that’s a tough contender in the World Series for several years.
5. Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals – About 1.5 million a year
Dayton Moore has been the Royals’ GM since 2006, when he took over from Allard Baird. Before joining the club, he had served in the Braves’ front office. Moore went to George Mason University, where he graduated in 1989, before becoming an assistant coach at the university between 1990 and ’94. When he joined the Atlanta Braves, he was just an area scouting supervisor. He upgraded to the front office in 1996, where he worked as an assistant in the baseball operations department.
From 1997 to 1999, he became the Assistant Director of Scouting and then Assistant Director of Player Development. When he joined the Royals, the franchise had not made it into the postseason since their 1985 World Series victory. Although his family moved around a lot, Moore has always been a Royals fan since childhood. He set out to build a competitive scouting department from within, steering away from the previous strategy of going for second-tier and often overvalued free agents in a bid to win – all too unsuccessful.
The strategy took some time to bear fruit, but Moore was patient enough to stick to the plan, unlike his predecessors. By 2013, not only was the club playing way over .500, but it was also on the verge of joining the postseason race. In 2014, things fell into place and the team made it into the postseason. What’s more, Moore led the team into defeating the Oakland Athletics in a classic Wild Card Game, and then stormed through the Division & League Championship Series to report to the World Series. Although the San Francisco Giants ran away with the victory, the Royals returned with a more impressive season last year, this time winning the franchise’s 2nd Championship in its history.