BOSTON -- A loyal and tireless member of the Red Sox’ front office for 21 years, Raquel Ferreira has received a steady stream of promotions over her two decades with the club.
But the trust that team ownership put in her last month was her most gratifying moment yet.
On Sept. 8, when owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president/CEO Sam Kennedy informed Dave Dombrowski that he was no longer the president of baseball operations, a temporary structure was put into place -- one that is still going strong.
Assistant general managers Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran and Zack Scott formed three-fourths of the group that will run the front office until Dombrowski’s successor is named. The fourth member of the group is Ferreira, the team’s senior vice president of Major and Minor League operations.
By being elevated during the transition, Ferreira became the highest-ranking woman in a baseball operations department during a regular season.
“It meant a lot,” Ferreira said. “I’m not going to lie. Especially with the landscape, the way baseball is, there aren’t many females in prominent leadership roles. There’s Jean Afterman with the Yankees. For John [Henry], Tom [Werner], Mike Gordon and Sam [Kennedy] to actually give me a seat at the table has meant a great deal and it says a lot to me about this organization.”
It was a clear sign that ownership realizes what former Red Sox baseball ops leaders Dan Duquette, Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington and Dombrowski knew full well -- that Ferreira is an indispensable part of the organization.
While Henry indicated last week that Dombrowski’s successor should probably be someone who has had experience running a baseball operations department given the sheer volume of challenges the club faces this offseason, Ferreira should not be discounted if the Sox decide to go internal.
Such a move would make her the first female in baseball history to run a baseball operations department.
But in typical Ferreira fashion, she won’t be submitting her resume. Ferreira -- a communications major and 1992 graduate of the University of Rhode Island -- has never lobbied for a position in all her years with the Red Sox, and she isn’t going to start now.
The Ferreira way is to let her work speak for itself.
“No, I don’t do that,” said Ferreira, when asked if she would tell ownership she’d like to be considered for the GM job. “I am honored that I have a seat at the table which speaks volumes about this organization. I am never going to lobby or give you like, ‘Hey, this person should be me.’ I will leave it up to them. I’ve been here for 21 years. They know what I can and can’t do. I know my own strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to them.”
While Ferreira has great pride in the fact she could help pave the way for more women in MLB front offices, she doesn’t like the label of breaking barriers.
“No, I hate that,” Ferreira said. “I hate barrier breaking. I hate when you have to count on your hand, ‘Like she’s only the first or the second or the third’. I hope there comes a day in baseball where you don’t have to do that, where you don’t have to say, she’s only the third or the second or whatever.”
It stands to reason that women who want to work in baseball will start using Ferreira as inspiration. And Ferreira isn’t shy about the exec she has gained her inspiration from. That would be assistant general manager Jean Afterman of the rival Yankees.
“I always say I want to be like Jean Afterman 2.0. She’s the original badass,” said Ferreira, who then chuckled as she wondered if that last word should be in print. “She’s the original badass in baseball, so you know when they always do a reboot, it’s not as good as the original? But I would like be Jean Afterman. I’d like to be the reboot because I think she’s a badass and she’s an awesome person to look up to.”
Kim Ng has had a similar impact in front offices. She was an assistant GM with both the Yankees and Dodgers, and is currently the senior VP of for baseball operations with MLB.
Ferreira is perhaps too humble to realize how many people in the Red Sox organization look up to her. And they happen to be some of the most important people.
There isn’t a Red Sox player who has been called up in recent years -- from Mookie Betts to Xander Bogaerts to Andrew Benintendi to Jackie Bradley to Rafael Devers -- who hasn’t looked at Ferreira as a key guiding force.
Ferreira has long treated every player in the Minor League organization with the warmth of a family member. She makes sure their environment is comfortable and that she has the proper support system in place to thrive on the field.
When the Red Sox extended Bogaerts with a six-year, $120-million extension back in April, Ferreira played a pivotal role in the negotiations. Bogaerts put his trust in her, and it led to him giving up a chance in free agency this winter, when he likely would have made more than the deal he got to stay with Boston.
In the coming months or years, there could be similar negotiations with Betts and Devers, and Ferreira could get another chance to demonstrate just how vital she is to the organization.
No matter what happens with Boston’s search for their next leader of baseball operations, it is obvious that Ferreira’s biggest priority is to keep helping the Red Sox -- perhaps even for another couple of decades. The latest transition doesn’t phase her because she’s been through many before.
“I’ve been here when Theo was here and then he left and then he came back and then it was Ben and Jed [Hoyer], and then it was Ben, and then it was Dave,” said Ferreira. “So I’ve been through it before and I’m hoping that whoever comes in whether it is external or if they decide to go internal, we’ll realize this group is very special that we have here and there’s a reason why everybody has stayed here for so long.
“Any one of us could go find a different job in baseball. But this organization is very special to work for and we’re all hoping that the person who comes in will realize what they have here. Just like Dave did. Dave didn’t make any changes when he came in and he said that from the beginning, he didn’t know what he was going to do and he could have and he didn’t. We’re hoping for the same thing.”
For Ferreira, “the same thing” will mean that she continues to make an impact on the Red Sox each day she comes to work.