Could a former Red Sox reliever end up being the team’s new head of baseball operations?
The Athletic reported Wednesday that Cubs assistant general manager Craig Breslow — a pitcher for the Red Sox in 2006-07 and 2012-15 who played an integral part on the 2013 title team — has been in “advanced discussions” with the Sox about their position(s) running the baseball operations department.
That said, while one source familiar with the search characterized Breslow as a leading candidate, it’s not to say the process is approaching the finish line. According to multiple industry sources, the Sox have continued to conduct first-round interviews with candidates this week.
Twins GM Thad Levine interviewed Monday, and as of Wednesday, multiple sources said, the Sox were still trying to meet with one or more additional candidates. Still, they appear to be either entering the second round of the process or nearing that point.
According to one MLB source, Breslow interviewed earlier this month about heading the department rather than taking a No. 2 role. The mere fact that he would be considered for such a position reflects his rapid ascent as an executive.
After pitching professionally for 17 seasons (12 in the big leagues) from 2002-18, Breslow began his front office career in 2019, when the Cubs hired him as a director of strategic initiatives. He incorporated data-based evaluation and development into every aspect of the organization.
The Cubs promoted him to director of pitching and special assistant to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer in 2020, then elevated him to assistant GM and vice president in 2021 after Epstein stepped down and Hoyer moved up to head the department.
Breslow is credited with having a significant role in the Cubs’ transformation from an organization that endured a long stretch without developing homegrown pitching to one with a flourishing pipeline. He’s involved in the game-planning work of the big league pitching staff, putting him in regular communication with players and staff.
Though Breslow lives with his family in Newton and split time between his home and Chicago, as well as its affiliates, those familiar with the Cubs say he is deeply involved with all aspects of the baseball operations department and is capable of overseeing all aspects of a team.
Still, many around the industry are surprised by the idea of Breslow, who grew up in Connecticut, as a leading candidate simply because of his limited time as an executive — especially one who has worked remotely rather than living through the day-to-day, face-to-face dynamics of the organization.
No one doubts his intelligence or aptitude; the Yale-educated Breslow was widely considered the smartest player in the game during his career, and he has continued to be viewed as one of the brightest executives in the sport. Moreover, current Rangers GM Chris Young (whose team is in the ALCS) had spent less than two years in a front office (in addition to three years as an executive in the Commissioner’s Office) before the Rangers promoted him from the No. 2 person to the leader after Jon Daniels was dismissed last season.
It’s also worth noting Breslow has relationships within the Red Sox organization. He was teammates with Alex Cora in 2006 and ‘07, he took part in the team’s Winter Weekend last January (when the Sox brought back many 2013 alums), and he knows members of the senior leadership team and ownership group.
Whether all that positions Breslow as a favorite — or even the favorite — remains to be seen. But at the least, the report of his “advanced discussions” suggests a process that is moving from its initial phase to one in which the field is narrowing.