MLBTR’s list of general manager candidates introduced 20 people who were identified by their peers as potential Major League GMs. We’ve been bringing you closer to the candidates with a series of pieces. Today the series continues with Peter Woodfork, a senior VP in MLB’s baseball operations department.
As we've seen this offseason, it’s not uncommon for MLB executives to accept new positions and switch their allegiances from one team to another in a matter of days. Peter Woodfork of Major League Baseball has worked for two teams and in the league office, so he knows how to adjust rooting interests on the fly as well as anyone. Woodfork began his MLB career in the impartial MLB offices before moving on to the highly competitive Red Sox and Diamondbacks and back to MLB.
The 1999 Harvard graduate became an expect on arbitration and the collective bargaining agreement in the commissioner’s office before joining the Red Sox and moving on to the Diamondbacks. Along the way he continued assisting teams with arbitration and roster management while contributing to player development. Now a senior VP for baseball operations in the commissioner’s office, Woodfork assists all 30 teams. Here are some highlights from a recent conversation he and I had:
On how he assessed player acquisitions with the Red Sox and Diamondbacks:
Being able to work with [former D’Backs and Red Sox execs and current MLB GMs] Josh Byrnes or Jerry Dipoto, you find a balance. Josh was adamant about whatever game or player you want to see, you write a scouting report, no matter who you are up and down the organization. It allowed me to see games with the expectation that I’d write a scouting report.
Everyone tries to lump people into different categories and I think now people are looking for balance. There’s an analytical portion to it, there’s a scouting portion to it and without that balance you’re not going to be successful.
On how his perspective on the game has changed along with his responsibilities:
Starting off in the commissioner’s office, I didn’t have the perspective of each club and what they were trying to do as much as you do when you get there. In Boston you’re a large market club, which is different compared to a small-market club. In a large market, every player’s available to you, whether it be through a free agent signing or a trade. Whereas if you’re a small-market club, you probably don’t have to worry about the high, high-end free agent who’s going to demand a lot of money. It’s not something most small-market teams can do, so you’re probably focused on scouting and player development, making sure you find your core players that way. I’ve been lucky enough to experience both perspectives and it makes me better at my job in the commissioner’s office.
On the difference between helping 30 teams from the commissioner’s office and working for the interests of one club:
In the commissioner’s office, you try to be as objective as possible and make decisions for the best interests of the game and for the integrity of the game, whereas when you’re working for one team, your pure focus is on helping that team win. It’s tough to go to a baseball game and see something happen and sit on your hands, but that’s the responsibility [as an MLB employee]. There’s no cheering. You make sure you’re respectful and you want to clap in certain situations, but you’re generally quiet and it’s a responsibility we have. I go to a National Football League game and I root very hard for the New England Patriots but [working for MLB] you’re a fan of the game more than a fan of a club.