2. Erik Neander
Neander is currently the Rays’ highest-ranking baseball decision-making official, but don’t worry. They’ve got 12 more 34-year-olds with crew cuts lined up to take his place whenever some bigger-market team hands him the bag as GM.
The 39-year-old is the closest thing out there right now to the next Bloom/Friedman, and the only worry about potentially poaching him is that Steinbrenner would place him under the same constraints as Cashman/Bloom in Boston. “You can spend! Whoa, but not that way. Just a little bit here and there. Yeah, like you’re feeding fish.”
Is that narrative a bit overblown, though? Bloom paid top dollar for injured and fading pitchers last winter like Rich Hill and James Paxton. Cashman recently paid through the nose for Josh Donaldson, Adam Ottavino, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and JA Happ. Given the same amount of money, it’s doubtful Neander would pursue so many lottery tickets. He probably wouldn’t add a single reliever.
One other thing Neander has going for him? Presented with the opportunity to lock up Wander Franco, he got it done young, something the Braves/Rays have mastered, and something that’s eluded the Yankees forever. If Neander can convince Steinbrenner he knows how to present early extensions in a way that’s calculated and not wasteful, perhaps there could be a revolution in the Bronx, too, instead of “future money” being earmarked for Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez that stays in a lockbox forever.