- Gabriel Burns
The Braves will take their time with their unexpected general manager search following John Coppolella’s resignation on Monday.
Team president and now interim GM John Hart said it will be a patient search that could draw into November.
“I’ve assumed the GM role and we will begin a search as we go forward in the next weeks,” Hart said. “We’re in a good spot. We’ve hired (assistant GM) Adam Fisher and (director of player personnel) Perry Minasian, and from a baseball perspective we’re in a good spot.”
With the sudden need for change, the Braves have not opened an official search.
“We’re probably 24 to 48 hours away from beginning to really assemble the list,” Hart said. “I’ve got people in the back of my mind, as do others. We’re in such a good spot as we go forward. This is going to be a terrific opportunity.”
There are a few logical candidates for what many in baseball consider an attractive position:
Once serving a variety of positions with the Braves, from scout to assistant general manager, Moore built a world series champion in Kansas City. He was among the preferred candidates before the Braves hired Frank Wren, and Royals ownership said they wouldn’t block him from interviewing for another position. The Royals are approaching a retooling phase, but Moore received an extension last February and has deep roots to Kansas City.
Moore addressed speculation Monday, telling Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com: “I’ve heard that stuff before and I’m not even going to comment on it. My focus is and always has been on the Kansas City Royals.”
An NL East veteran, Jennings is likely among the early names on Hart’s mind. He joined the Nationals in 2016 after a 13-year tenure with the Marlins. Like Coppolella, Jennings’ background is in scouting. He worked his way from associate scout to GM of the Marlins in 2014 and leading the Fish to a 15-game improvement. When the team fired manager Mike Redmond in 2015, Jennings served as manager for the remainder of the season. The Marlins hired Don Mattingly as permanent manager, which freed Jennings to pursue another opportunity. Jennings could be the top candidate and the Braves may have already reached out to him.
If the Braves can’t get Moore, why not consider his top assistant? Picollo worked with the Braves from 1999 through 2005. He joined the Royals in 2006 as director of player development and has since worked his way up under Moore. Picollo is an often mentioned candidate for these positions and recently interviewed for the Twins’ president of baseball operations position.
McLeod is an unheralded voice in Cubs’ front office, along with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. He too has a background in player evaluation. McLeod has been key in the draft room, helping his teams select Jacoby Ellsbury, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Reddick and others. He’ll appeal to several teams as a new-age, analytic-friendly candidate.
The Braves could consider the young route again and the 38-year-old Stark would be a logical candidate for where the system stands. Stark has served under Neal Huntington since he arrived in Pittsburgh. He began as farm director and was promoted to assistant GM in 2011. Stark helped take the Pirates from two decades of misery to playoff contender through the development of a deep farm system. Sound familiar? Stark would be well-stocked in Atlanta and have more financial freedom as well.