You don’t often see GMs fired two weeks before the trade deadline, as this is a pretty busy time of year to be shaking up a front office. You don’t often see the Twins fire anyone, as organizational continuity has been a hallmark of their club, and why they’ve only had five GMs in their franchise history. But today, the Twins bucked both trends, relieving Terry Ryan of his duties, and replacing him on an interim basis with assistant GM Rob Antony.
Minnesota Twins announce GM Terry Ryan has been relieved of his duties. Assistant GM Rob Antony as Interim GM. pic.twitter.com/LF2iYotKZ9
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) July 18, 2016
Ryan is well respected within the game, but this shows that even his leash was only so long; a GM with a lesser reputation would have likely been removed from the post a while ago, given the number of missteps the front office has made of late. The team’s investments in Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco haven’t paid off, and after finding a breakthrough with Phil Hughes, an early extension has turned him into a liability as well, after he went back to being Phil Hughes. Combine that with the Joe Mauer contract going south — which, to be fair, mostly had to do with Mauer’s concussion issues forcing a move off catcher, which couldn’t have really been predicted — and a team with a mid-level payroll was not getting much of a return on their significant financial investments.
That puts a lot of pressure on the team to develop a host of young stars, but Byron Buxton hasn’t yet lived up to the hype, Miguel Sano is too one dimensional to carry a team by himself, and young arms like Kyle Gibson have failed to turn into high-quality starters. With too many things going wrong, the Twins find themselves with the worst record in the American League, and not enough hope for the current roster that things are going to turn around any time soon. And so they decided to make a change.
That said, this should be a fairly attractive job for a younger candidate looking to make their mark in the game. Buxton isn’t a complete bust just yet, and with Sano around, there are a couple of potential cornerstone pieces in place, if the new regime can figure out how to maximize their abilities. The team also isn’t as bad as their record makes them look — their BaseRuns record is 40-51, still not great, but less disastrous — and could be in line for some improvement even without a lot of tinkering. Toss in a division that doesn’t have a traditional behemoth, and the Twins path back to contention could be shorter than some of the other jobs that have opened up lately.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.