Rox GM Bridich steps down; Feasel named president
DENVER – The Colorado Rockies announced on Monday that the club and executive vice president/general manager Jeff Bridich have mutually agreed that Bridich will step down from his role, effective immediately.
Greg Feasel, the club’s executive vice president/chief operating officer since 2010 and in his 26th season with the organization, has been named president/chief operating officer. He will now oversee baseball operations in addition to his current responsibilities leading all facets of the club’s business operations, including spearheading the organization’s role as host of the 2021 MLB All-Star Game festivities this July.
In the midst of his seventh season as general manager, Bridich now brings to a close 17 years with the Rockies organization. He joined the Rockies' baseball department in 2004 and rose to senior director of baseball operations in 2006, and then senior director of player development in 2011. Since being named GM in October 2014, Bridich oversaw the Rockies’ only consecutive playoff appearances in franchise history, in 2017 and 2018.
But Bridich also came under heavy criticism, in part because he dealt star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays before the 2015 Trade Deadline and star third baseman Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals before this season. Both moves came amid hard feelings between the club and the players involved, and neither move was popular with fans.
The organization will be appointing an interim general manager for the remainder of the season, and it will conduct a search for a permanent general manager once the 2021 MLB postseason has completed.
“Over the last week, Jeff, Greg and I determined that it was in the best interest of Jeff, his family and the Rockies, for him to step down as general manager," Rockies chairman/CEO Dick Monfort said in a statement. "I’m saddened by this, but I have accepted the fact that we must move on. Jeff has dedicated the last 17 years of his life to this organization. He has been a great Rockie and been part of many memorable moments, including being the general manager for our first back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018. I’m grateful for his leadership, professionalism and hard work. I wish Jeff and his family nothing but the very best.
“I’m excited to name Greg as our team president. We appreciate the focus and structure he has provided to the day-to-day business side, and I am confident he will bring that same leadership to the baseball side. Right now, we are focused on naming an interim general manager as quickly as possible and working our way back to postseason baseball.”
Bridich issued the following statement:
“I would like to sincerely thank Dick and the entire extended Monfort family for my tenure here. 17 years is a long time with an organization, and the experiences of the past 17 seasons have meant a great deal to me and to my family. After recent conversations with Dick and Greg Feasel regarding the organization and its future, it became abundantly clear that ushering in a new leadership structure is critically important. With that in mind we arrived at this decision to part ways, and ultimately it will be what is best for the Rockies and for me.
"Change can be a great thing for an organization and for the individuals who comprise it. Dick has a clear vision for the Rockies, and after nearly seven seasons as general manager I believe it is time for someone else to help lead that vision. Working in professional baseball is not just a job, it’s a round-the-clock lifestyle. There are innumerable people in the Rockies organization who are committed to that lifestyle, and I want to thank all of those folks for their volume of work, their care and concern for each other and their collective belief in the organization. Finally, a big THANK YOU to Rockies fans for loving our players and for consistently showing up in support of the team through thick and thin.”
In his session with the media before Monday’s game against the Giants, manager Bud Black said he was surprised by Bridich’s decision.
“We were shocked actually,” Black said. “Jeff told me late yesterday afternoon after the ballgame before we popped on the airplane. We shared a moment together in my office with the door closed and talked freely about a lot of things over the last five years. But Jeff indicated that moving forward, the Rockies -- those of us downstairs in uniform -- are in a good place. Basically, he felt it was time.”
The height of the Bridich era came because a group of young starting pitchers -- mostly developed by the organization -- combined with a mostly homegrown roster. The most successful moves for Bridich were trading for right-handed starting pitcher Germán Márquez, at the time a prosect in the Rays organization, and hitting on the Rockies' closers in the postseason years -- Greg Holland in ’17 and Wade Davis in ’18.
However, big-dollar free agency did not yield the production to equal the dollars. This included the signings of outfielder Gerardo Parra (three years, $27.5 million), outfielder-infielder Ian Desmond (five years, $70 million -- although Desmond opted not to play in ’20 or so far in ’21), first baseman Daniel Murphy (two years, $24 million), and a long list of relievers: Jason Motte (two years, $10 million), Mike Dunn (three years, $19 million), Davis (three years, $52 million), Jake McGee (three years, $27 million) and Bryan Shaw (three years, $27 million).
While Davis, McGee and Shaw had their periods of production for the postseason clubs, they were all released before their contracts concluded.
Bridich inherited manager Walt Weiss from the previous regime. That relationship soured, and Weiss left after the ’16 season. But Bridich and the Rockies scored with the hiring of Bud Black, who led the team to its postseason trips and is still the manager.
The biggest move of the Bridich era came just before the 2019 season, when the Rockies signed Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million contract. A surprise aspect of the deal was an opt-out clause after the 2021 season, which Bridich said he suggested. Arenado and the team had a falling out, and he was traded to the Cardinals this past winter.
Bridich's departure comes with the Rockies in last place in the National League West with an 8-13 record. If the club continues to struggle, many observers believe the Rockies' best route is to trade two-time All-Star shortstop Trevor Story and productive right-hander Jon Gray to continue a rebuild.