Gomes rises quickly to become Dodgers GM

Former pitcher, Friedman to take 'divide and conquer' approach to leadership

January 23rd, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- As his five-year Major League career was nearing its end, knew he wanted to find his next challenge. Making it to the Majors was already an accomplished dream, but his curiosity helped him quickly pursue his next one.

“I was always interested in just the overall operations of how a Major League team works,” Gomes said. “From how the Draft works, what goes into that, daily moves, constructing a roster, that was something that was of interest to me from my playing days.”

Once he retired in 2016, Gomes shifted his energy into tapping into that curiosity. He didn’t know exactly how to begin his next chapter, but he figured his pitching background would be a decent start. The Dodgers were looking to shake up their Minor League pitching structure. That’s when Gomes decided to reach out to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

“That was the way to get in and be able to provide value to the organization, and also get to learn more and work with really talented and passionate people,” Gomes said. “That was the impetus of it, and it has progressed from there.”

Things have progressed even quicker than Gomes could’ve envisioned since that initial call to Friedman. Since retiring from baseball only five years ago, Gomes, 37, has gone from the Dodgers’ director of player development to their 12th general manager since the club moved to Los Angeles.

Gomes becomes the first Dodgers GM to work under Friedman since Farhan Zaidi left the organization to run the Giants following the 2018 season. Los Angeles left the GM position open for the next three years, seemingly preparing for this exact moment. Gomes was always the favorite to become the team’s next GM. He continued his quick development, and the Dodgers finally saw enough to promote him.

During his time in the organization, Gomes has been an invaluable member of the Dodgers’ front office. He has experience with the Minor League operations, as well as with the big league club. His playing experience, bouncing back and forth from the Minors to the Majors, also adds great value. By all accounts, he’s one of the fastest risers in the industry.

“I think I could argue that it could have been quicker,” Friedman said, when asked about Gomes’ quick rise through the front-office ranks. “I think just his ability to connect with people, and then what stems from that. You kind of get a sense through this, just how curious he was as a player, how curious he is now in this role -- and his natural leadership qualities. You take all of that together, and I think it’s a pretty rare executive profile.”

Before the end of Thursday’s introductory Zoom press conference, Friedman stopped and shared a story that reflects how multitalented he believes Gomes is. In 2016, a Major League team requested permission to interview Gomes for its vacant pitching coach position. A few years later, another big league team asked to interview Gomes for its general manager position.

“There aren’t a lot of people that you can say that really are qualified to do so many different things,” Friedman said.

Earlier this offseason, the Mets reportedly interviewed Gomes for their GM job. The Dodgers knew the requests for Gomes weren’t going to stop anytime soon. But Gomes was never truly in danger of leaving the organization. He was always willing to listen to other opportunities, but his mission was always to be the next GM of the Dodgers -- the organization that gave him the opportunity five years ago despite not having previous front-office experience.

“I love it here,” Gomes said. “Getting the chance to put down roots and continuing to work with Andrew and the rest of the incredibly talented group is the absolute ideal situation, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.”

Gomes and Friedman’s relationship dates back over a decade. Friedman, then the general manager of the Rays, executed a trade with the Padres in 2010 that landed Gomes in St. Petersburg. Gomes made his Major League debut the following season. Friedman and Gomes both attended and played at Tulane University, though they didn’t meet until Gomes’ time with the Rays.

Now the two will work together as a two-headed monster, leading one of the biggest operations in the sport. They’ll figure out a way to divide the day-to-day responsibilities, as well as all the big-picture stuff. There’s no definitive plan on how to do that yet, but they’re confident that promoting Gomes is the best decision for the organization moving forward.

“It’s very much a divide and conquer, and we’re gonna kind of let this play out naturally,” Friedman said. “We have such a talented group that we work with on a daily basis. It’s just putting everybody in the best position to succeed and go out and dominate an area so that, collectively, we’re in the best possible place that we can be.”