Top 5 candidates Angels could consider for new GM, including some with Dodgers ties

Maria Torres
·6 min read
San Diego Padres general manager Josh Byrnes talks with manager Buddy Black before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Diego, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Josh Byrnes (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

Angels owner Arte Moreno fired general manager Billy Eppler after five consecutive losing seasons. Now comes the hard part.

Moreno will spend at least part of October identifying and interviewing potential replacements. The candidate pool is expected to include executives who have proven ability in scouting and development. Another prerequisite for the job? Experience leading a team to victory.

The Angels are expected to consider a long list of candidates. Here are five possibilities in alphabetical order.

Josh Byrnes, 50

Most recent team: Dodgers (2014-present)

When Farhan Zaidi left the Dodgers in 2018, Byrnes seemed the obvious candidate to be promoted to general manager. But president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated at the time that Byrnes was too valuable in his role as senior vice president of baseball operations to move him. The Dodgers ultimately decided to have Friedman take on general manager duties and Byrnes continues to oversee scouting and player development.

Byrnes was general manager of Arizona from October 2005 to July 2010 and of San Diego from October 2011 to June 2014. In eight seasons, Byrnes’ teams posted a winning record twice.

Byrnes never had at his disposal the riches of a large-market team. He was allotted eight-figure opening day payrolls each season he was in charge. The Angels, meanwhile, have spent more than $100 million on opening day payrolls every year since 2006. Moreno was on the hook for a franchise-high $184 million this season before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped more than half of the schedule.

Byrnes began his front office career with Cleveland in 1994. He became an assistant general manager with Colorado in 1999 before holding the same job in Boston from 2003 to 2005. The Red Sox won their first of four World Series titles in 15 years during Byrnes’ second season.

Dave Dombrowski, 64

Most recent team: Boston Red Sox (2015-19)

Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski speaks during a news conference.
Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski speaks during a news conference in Boston on July 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) (Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

Dombrowski first made an impact as general manager of Montreal from 1988 to 1991. One of his early trades involved flipping eventual Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, a rookie, to Seattle for veteran Mark Langston as the Expos tried to push for the 1989 playoffs. Montreal missed the postseason and Langston signed that winter with the Angels.

Aggressive trades were a hallmark of Dombrowski teams. Soon after his 1997 Florida Marlins won the World Series, Dombrowski dismantled the roster at the behest of ownership.

During his 14-year tenure with Detroit, Dombrowski executed a number of successful moves as the team won four division titles and appeared in two World Series. Among them were trades for Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, David Price and Ian Kinsler; free-agent signings of Ivan Rodriguez, Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordóñez; and contract extensions of Justin Verlander, Plácido Polanco and manager Jim Leyland.

Dombrowski was fired by the Tigers in August 2015 but it didn’t take long for him to land in Boston. He followed the same methods he employed in Detroit, leveraging the farm system to land major league talent that would lead the Red Sox to a title in 2018.

Dombrowski is currently a consultant and advisor to a group trying to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville. Tony La Russa, an Angels special advisor to Moreno, is also part of the group.

Dan Jennings, 60

Most recent team: Washington Nationals (2016-present)

Miami Marlins new general manager Dan Jennings speaks during a news conference.
Miami Marlins new general manager Dan Jennings speaks during a news conference where he was named manager of the team in Miami on May 18, 2015. (Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

Before becoming a special assistant to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and forming part of the group that constructed the 2019 World Series roster, Jennings cut his teeth as one of baseball’s premier talent evaluators.

Cincinnati gave him his first scouting job in 1986. Later, he became the first scouting director hired by Tampa Bay. He was responsible for the signing and development of more than 45 Rays players including Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford, James Shields and Rocco Baldelli.

He joined the Marlins in 2002, a year before they beat the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series, and worked his way up until being named general manager before the 2014 season. In a pinch, the Marlins named him interim field manager in May 2015. Jennings expected to return to the front office after the season but was fired.

Rizzo was quick to hire Jennings, who was inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame in 2012. Both forged similar paths, rising from scouting director to general manager.

De Jon Watson, 54

Most recent team: Washington Nationals (2017-present)

Dave Stewart, Derrick Hall, Ken Kendrick, Zack Greinke, Chip Hale, Tony La Russa and De Jon Watson pose for a picture.
Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Dave Stewart, from left to right, President and CEO Derrick Hall, owner Ken Kendrick, pitcher Zack Greinke, manager Chip Hale, Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa, and Senior Vice-President Baseball Operations De Jon Watson pose for a picture after a press conference on Dec. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Watson has more than 30 years of experience in professional baseball. He worked for the Dodgers from 2005 to 2014 prior to serving as Arizona's senior vice president of baseball operations from 2014 to 2016. He never has held the title of general manager.

Watson is best known for his work in player development and on the international market. He’s a valued lieutenant of Rizzo.

During his time as the Dodgers’ head of player development, his farm system developed many draft picks and international signees into major leaguers. Watson was instrumental in nudging Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to convert from catching to pitching in 2009.

Before joining Rizzo’s staff, Watson worked closely with La Russa in Arizona. La Russa, then the Diamondbacks’ chief baseball officer, referred to Watson as “a very bright guy” and “an out-of-the-box thinker.”

Logan White, 57

Most recent team: San Diego Padres (2014-present)

Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White stands with the team's top draft pick, Zach Lee.
Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White, left, stands with the team's top draft pick, Zach Lee, before a game at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 18, 2010. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

White is the Padres’ director of player personnel and senior adviser to general manager A.J. Preller. He made his name as a successful scouting director, leading the Dodgers drafts that netted Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Matt Kemp, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson. He also played a significant role in the signings of international players such as Jansen, Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Carlos Santana and Julio Urías.

White, a minor league reliever in the mid-1980s, began his scouting career with Seattle in 1988. He was hired by the Dodgers as director of amateur scouting in 2001. His highest post with the Dodgers was vice president of amateur and international scouting.

White's acumen and track record would be a welcome fit in Anaheim.

Other potential candidates: Jason McLeod, Chicago Cubs, senior vice president of player personnel; Billy Owens, Oakland Athletics, assistant general manager and director of player personnel; J.J. Picollo, Kansas City Royals, vice president and assistant general manager of player personnel; Jared Porter, Arizona Diamondbacks, senior vice president and assistant general manager.