The Rockies are leaning towards naming interim general manager Bill Schmidt the club’s permanent GM, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Indeed, Nightengale adds that Schmidt has already been conducting interviews with potential candidates for other important front office positions.
Schmidt has been leading the Rockies’ front office since early May, when he took over on an interim basis after the franchise and Jeff Bridich parted ways. Schmidt has been a fixture in the Colorado organization for more than two decades, leading the club’s draft room since 2000. Certainly, he’s as familiar as anyone with the ins and outs of the franchise.
Rockies’ owner Dick Monfort has been extremely loyal to his top front office personnel. Colorado has had only two full-time general mangers since 1999, when Dan O’Dowd assumed the top role. O’Dowd remained in charge of baseball operations until 2014, when the franchise promoted Bridich (who’d been in the organization for ten years already) to lead the staff until this season.
To be sure, there’d be some merit to removing the interim tag from Schmidt’s title. Colorado’s had some success finding future stars (most notably Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story) during his time heading the amateur draft. And the team has outperformed general expectations since Schmidt took over baseball operations on May 3. After opening the season 10-18, Colorado has gone a respectable 47-48 despite a roster that looks like one of the league’s weakest on paper. How much credit Schmidt deserves for that decent run is debatable, but the team showing some signs of life certainly couldn’t hurt his candidacy.
That said, the Rockies promoting Schmidt to the full-time role wouldn’t be without some backlash. Monfort’s longstanding preference for promoting from within has led to criticism about the franchise’s hiring processes being too insular. Nightengale also reports that Colorado is expected to hire former manager Clint Hurdle in some sort of front office capacity, which would further fuel that criticism.
Moreover, Schmidt’s handling of this past summer’s trade deadline wasn’t without its detractors. Colorado held onto Story, Jon Gray, C.J. Cron, Germán Márquez and Daniel Bard, resisting a more comprehensive teardown. Keeping impending free agents Story, Gray and Cron, in particular, perplexed many onlookers (Story himself included). Schmidt almost certainly had Monfort’s support — implicit or explicit — in mostly standing pat, though, so it’s impossible from the outside to parse out credit or blame among Rockies’ brass for that decision.
If Schmidt gets the full-time position, he’ll have his work cut out for him in rebuilding his front office. In March, Ken Rosenthal and Nick Groke of the Athletic throughly reported a mass exodus among Rockies staffers last offseason. In the intervening months, Bridich has departed, as have assistant general managers Jon Weil and Zach Wilson. Replacing those higher-level executives figures to be a key focus for the Rox in the coming months.