SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, BASEBALL OPERATIONS & GENERAL MANAGER
Erik Neander (nee-ANN-der) enters his fifth season as senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, and his fourth season as the club’s top-ranking baseball official. He was named to his current post on Nov 4, 2016, and one year later Matt Silverman shifted to team president after a three-year stretch as president of baseball operations.
As the leader of baseball operations, Erik collaborates with all areas of the department to set the vision and expectations for the entire operation. In addition to working to sustain a people-first culture, he directly oversees functional areas, including player evaluation and procurement, the major league coaching and support staff, and roster and staff management. He and his group assembled a club that proved itself as the American League champions by any measure in 2020: they went a league-best 40-20, won the powerhouse AL East by seven games and in the postseason conquered the Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros to reach the World Series. The Rays captured their third division title (2010, 2008) and second pennant (2008), and have now played in back-to-back postseasons for the second time in club history (2010-11). Since Neander moved into his current role, the Rays have improved their winning percentage in each of the last four seasons—a claim that no other team can make.
“I think that the Rays are an example of what’s great about our game,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Tampa Bay Times last October. “And what I mean by that is that there’s lots of different ways to put together a roster that can be really, really effective. And I think the fact that the Rays have done it with more limited resources than almost any other club is a phenomenal accomplishment. It’s a credit to their ingenuity, their talent, their innovation.”
In just over four years as general manager, Erik and his staff have engineered 72 major league trades involving a total of 174 players, including a club-record 20 trades in 2018. Of the 40-man roster and 60-day IL, 34 players have been acquired since he was appointed GM (and 22 via trade). Among those trade acquisitions are 2020 ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Ryan Yarbrough, Nick Anderson, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Díaz, Manuel Margot, Francisco Mejía and Luis Patiño. The 28-man 2020 World Series roster included 22 players acquired on Erik’s watch, 14 of them via trade.
Even more talent is on the way. The Rays enter 2021 ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 farm system in the game for a second straight season. MLB.com placed eight Rays prospects on its preseason Top 100 list, most of any team. Seven of those eight prospects were acquired by Erik’s staff, including international signing Wander Franco (No. 1 overall), draft picks Brendan McKay (No. 72) and Shane McClanahan (No. 84) and trade acquisitions Patiño (No. 19), Arozarena (No. 34), Xavier Edwards (No. 85) and Shane Baz (No. 90).
Over the past three seasons, the Rays own the 5th-best record in baseball at 226-158 (.589)—a 95-win pace over a 162-game season. In 2019, the team’s accomplishments—including a 96-66 record that fell one win shy of the franchise record—earned industry acclaim for both Neander and the organization. Erik was selected by his peers as the second recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award, following Oakland’s Billy Beane (2018), and earned a similar honor as Sporting News Executive of the Year. The Rays were recognized as _Baseball America_’s 2019 Organization of the Year.
Neander, who turns 38 in May, begins his 15th season in the Rays organization. Much of his past experience focused on player personnel, departmental administration, research and development, the amateur draft and major league operations. He joined the Rays in January 2007 as a baseball operations intern and was hired fulltime in October 2007. He was later promoted to manager, baseball research and development in 2009, director of baseball operations prior to the 2012 season and vice president of baseball operations in October 2014.
Prior to joining the Rays, Erik worked for Baseball Info Solutions. The Oneonta, N.Y. native graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s of science in food, nutrition and exercise. He and his wife, Jessica, reside in Tampa with their sons, Penn and Corbin; daughter, Eden; and their rescue animals.