On Thursday, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski promoted from within by making Mike Hazen the general manager. The decision was a popular one at Fenway Park in that it signaled Dombrowski valued continuity.
But there will be significant changes in how important decisions are made. That was made evident on Friday when the Sox hired former Orioles and Braves general manager Frank Wren as senior vice president of baseball operations.
Wren will report directly to Dombrowski and serve as his point man evaluating major league talent. The two worked together from 1987-98 with the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins and are close friends.
“When we talk about making trades or we talk about signing free agent players, we really want him actively involved in that,” Dombrowski said.
In the five weeks he has been with the Red Sox, Dombrowski has identified major league and professional scouting as an area of need.
Dombrowski didn’t provide examples, but in recent years the Sox made significant errors judging the worthiness of players such as Hanley Ramirez, Justin Masterson, and Pablo Sandoval.
Now Dombrowski wants new opinions in the room.
“It’s something that I really want changed,” he said. “A lot of that change is taking [place] behind the scenes. We’re getting closer to announcing what those changes will be. Frank is part of that change. We’re going to put more emphasis on people scouting the major leagues strictly . . . but also supplemented by another group of individuals that will be very strong in their [minor league] coverage.”
Dombrowski is hoping to retain Jerry Dipoto for one of those positions. The former Angels general manager was hired as a consultant in August with the understanding he could leave the Sox for a better opportunity.
Dipoto is under consideration to become the GM in Seattle.
Dombrowski also mentioned valuing the counsel of former Sox players Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek, who were special assistants under former GM Ben Cherington and elected to stay in the organization.
“I don’t think there’s any magical formula other that if you hopefully do your homework and have a pulse of those things that you’ll do a good job,” Dombrowski said. “Even if you do a good job, occasionally you’re going to make a mistake. But hopefully those are as limited as possible.”
Dombrowski will have the final say. But whether it’s by Hazen, Wren, or somebody else, he wants to hear differing opinions.
“When you’re in a position when you’re talking about major decisions, a lot of times they’re not just cut and dry. Sometimes they’re tough decisions,” Dombrowski said. “It’s extremely important that people around you will speak their minds. I know Frank will speak his mind. He will disagree with me. He has before. He will continue to do that.”
Said Wren: “One thing about Dave, he wants to hear a lot of different voices. He’s not afraid to have people differ from him. He’s not afraid to get everyone in the room and hear them out.”
Like the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox are building a front office with added layers of experience. It’s a sign of Dombrowski’s confidence.
“It’s a good idea if you can bring a lot of people on board,” he said.
Wren, 57, has 30 years of front office experience. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native was a minor league outfielder with the Expos from 1977-82 and then a coach before joining the front office staff in 1985.
Dombrowski and Wren left the Expos for the Marlins in 1991. Wren was Baltimore’s GM in 1999 then joined the Braves, becoming their GM in 2008.
Wren built three playoff teams in Atlanta. But he also made some high-profile mistakes.
Wren traded for Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla in 2010 and signed him to a $62 million extension. Uggla hit .209 over four seasons and was released last season. Wren also signed free agent outfielder Melvin Upton to a five-year, $75.2 million deal. Upton almost immediately began a career downturn.
“From 2010-14 we won more games than any team in baseball. We did some good things,” Wren said. “We also had some signings that were not so good. You learn all along the way. The biggest key is being able to invest in player development and scouting and that’s what the Red Sox can do like very few clubs can.”
The Sox made several other moves.
Jared Banner was promoted to director of player personnel. He had been assistant director of player personnel for three years. Banner has been with the Sox since 2008 in different roles.
Brad Pearson was promoted to head athletic trainer. He has been on the major league staff for four years.
Paul Buchheit was named assistant athletic trainer. Buchheit had been minor league medical coordinator since 2014 after stints with three minor league affiliates.
Rick Jameyson, the head athletic trainer since 2012, left the organization. He has not been with the team for most of the second half of the season for what was described as personal leave.