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The next generation of GMs

4/24/2013

John Schuerholz spent 26 years as a general manager with the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, the last 17 of those with his Atlanta until he was named club president in the fall of 2007.

His success with the Braves is well documented, but less known is the line of succession he had in place. During Schuerholz's last few years in Atlanta, his scouting director was Dayton Moore, who Schuerholz hoped would eventually take his place as GM. The two were so tight that Moore was nicknamed John Schuerholz Jr. by many of the Braves' employees. However, instead of waiting for Schuerholz to get promoted, Moore took the first GM opportunity he received, accepting an offer from the Royals to be their GM in 2006.

Enter Frank Wren. Wren served as GM of the Baltimore Orioles in 1999 after serving as assistant GM for the Marlins from 1991-1998. After a rocky relationship with Orioles owner Peter Angelos, they parted ways, but not until Bud Selig had to get involved to make sure Wren got paid for his services. Wren quickly landed on his feet, as he was hired by Schuerholz as assistant GM, a position he would hold for eight seasons.

When Moore left, it obviously changed the Braves' succession plan. It's an organization that prides itself on continuity, and it was only natural that Wren -- who stood out in his AGM role -- would get the nod as Schuerholz's successor. Those were not easy shoes to fill, as the Braves went to the playoffs every year from 1991 through 2005 and won a World Series in 1995. However, Atlanta has continued that success under Wren.

After making the playoffs last season, Wren had the best offseason of his career, signing B.J. Upton and trading for B.J.'s brother, Justin, without giving up any elite prospects. The Braves sit in first place and appear headed to October again.

Wren's rise to the GM's seat is not uncommon. Of the other 29 GMs in the league, I count seven as being part of a similar succession plan: Rick Hahn (Chicago White Sox), Mike Rizzo (Washington Nationals), Ben Cherington (Boston Red Sox), Alex Anthopoulos (Toronto Blue Jays), Chris Antonetti (Cleveland Indians), Ruben Amaro Jr. (Philadelphia Phillies) and John Mozeliak (St. Louis Cardinals). Like Wren, these seven GMs were working in their current organization and waiting in the wings to become the next GM.

Unfortunately, the majority of MLB clubs are so focused on today that they either don’t have GM candidates or don’t waste their time focusing on the next generation. With that in mind, here's a look at three execs who are currently being groomed by their current organizations to be the next GM, as well as three GMs in waiting who will get a job one day, though it likely won't come with their current clubs.

Future GMs as part of a succession plan