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Neander takes 3rd in Executive of Year race

@KeeganMatheson
November 17, 2020

Following a run to the 2020 World Series with a roster built out of player development, timely trades and hidden gems, Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander finished third in voting for Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award on Tuesday. The award,

Following a run to the 2020 World Series with a roster built out of player development, timely trades and hidden gems, Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander finished third in voting for Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award on Tuesday.

The award, which went to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, was voted on by all 30 clubs prior to the beginning of the postseason. Finishing second was Rick Hahn, senior vice president and general manager of the White Sox.

Over four seasons with Neander in his current role, the Rays have gone a combined 306-240 (.560) with two postseason appearances. In the shortened 2020 season, Tampa Bay’s 40-20 record topped the American League.

The Rays find themselves in the unique position of coming off a World Series appearance -- where they fell to the Dodgers -- while still having one of the top farm systems in baseball, led by No. 1 overall prospect Wander Franco. That pipeline of talent has served Tampa Bay well over the years, developing franchise cornerstones like Blake Snell, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Lowe and many others.

It's the ability of the Rays’ front office to find talent via trade, though, that has been even more impressive. Tampa Bay acquired Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and current No. 5 prospect Shane Baz for Chris Archer in 2018 in a deal that looks even better with time. The Rays’ playoff hero, Randy Arozarena, was also acquired via trade in January before bursting through as one of the best stories of the season.

Of the 28 players on Tampa Bay’s World Series roster in 2020, 15 had been acquired via trade. The Rays are rarely a major player in free agency, but their talent when it comes to player acquisition and development continues to be their greatest strength as an organization.

Neander has now been with the Rays for 14 years after first joining the organization in 2007 as a baseball operations intern. He was hired on a full-time basis following that season and was eventually promoted to manager of baseball research and development in ‘09, director of baseball operations prior to the ‘12 season and vice president of baseball operations in ‘14.

Keegan Matheson covers the Blue Jays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.