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A curious Brandon Gomes rises in Dodgers front office

How the former pitcher ascended to GM

Los Angeles Dodgers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

After Farhan Zaidi left to become the president of baseball operations in San Francisco, the Dodgers were not in a rush to fill the general manager position, technically keeping it vacant for the last three years. But now that position goes to Brandon Gomes, completing a rapid rise through the front office ranks for the former pitcher.

Gomes was promoted to vice president and general manager on Tuesday, after spending the last three years as assistant GM. Before that he was pitching performance coordinator in 2017 and director of player development in 2018.

“The way he poured himself into our pitching department and the incredible strides that we’ve made on that front, his fingerprints are all over our player development system.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on a conference call Thursday. “Our major league roster in the last few years has his fingerprints all over it.”

Gomes has worked closely with Friedman the last few years. Moving up a rung on the ladder will give Gomes more responsibility, though not so deliberately defined.

“I think it’s just a partnership. Things will change throughout months and years, and things will ebb and flow. I think just through communication, we’ll figure out what makes the most sense at any given time,” Friedman said. “Obviously, he will touch all aspects of the baseball operations department, and we’ll kind of figure out how to divide and conquer.”

Helping that division of labor in a collaborative Dodgers front office are a senior vice president in Josh Byrnes and now three assistant general managers — Jeff Kingston, Alex Slater, and Damon Jones. Slater was promoted and Jones was hired from the NFL’s Washington Football Team. Friedman said Jones, who worked in the Nationals front office for 13 years prior to jumping to the NFL, helped the Dodgers on a salary arbitration case in 2020.

A key was keeping the increasingly popular Gomes, about whom the Dodgers have received requests from other teams to interview for, at various times, a major league pitching coach, an assistant general manager, or a GM. The Mets were reported to be interested in Gomes this winter before hiring Billy Eppler as general manager.

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

Gomes and Friedman first crossed paths 11 years ago, when the Rays acquired the right-handed pitcher from the Padres along with three other players for shortstop Jason Bartlett.

Gomes pitched for five seasons in the majors with Tampa Bay. He was optioned to the minors in four of those seasons, including riding the up-and-down between Tampa and Triple-A Durham five different times in 2012. Gomes totaled 167 major league innings, all in relief, posting a 4.20 ERA, a 92 ERA+. A perfectly fine, if unspectacular playing career.

“His ability to handle constructive criticism, and appreciate that it was only to make him better. Not only could he handle it, but he wanted it, and sought out that information from myself and others that I worked with with the Rays,” said Friedman, Tampa Bay’s GM through 2014 before joining the Dodgers. “You could see it in terms of how it made him better on the field, and just his ability to connect with teammates.”

Gomes was a non-roster invitee with the Cubs in 2016, and pitched a few months in Triple-A Iowa before getting released that June. His playing career was over, but he said as things were winding down he could see the writing on the wall, and tried to look ahead to what’s next.

“I had curiosity early on from, you know, how the draft works, what goes into that, daily moves, constructing a roster,” Gomes said. “That was something that was of interest to me from my playing days.”

He joined the Dodgers prior to the 2017 season, first working with pitchers and then in player development before transitioning to assistant GM. Now he’s in a bigger chair.

At 37, Gomes is only four months older than third baseman Justin Turner, the elder statesman on the Dodgers roster, not that Gomes or anyone with the team could discuss such things on Thursday, with an MLB lockout in progress. Gomes is one of only six former major league players in either a general manager or president of baseball operations role in MLB, along with Billy Beane (A’s), Ken Williams (White Sox), Jerry Dipoto (Mariners), Sam Fuld (Phillies), and Chris Young (Rangers).

“Having an up and down career, and with failure comes a lot of really strong lessons that help shape decisions and how you work moving forward,” Gomes said. “I think the totality of my career, the ups and downs, getting hurt, and having different perspectives I think is helpful when it comes to just having a general sense of how guys view the clubhouse, and how things work in the front office.”