The Twins are in a youth movement — and not just on the field.
Derek Falvey, 33, will be hired as the team’s new president of baseball operations, the Star Tribune confirmed Monday.
Falvey, who is Cleveland’s assistant general manager, will become the second-youngest person to preside over a baseball department in the majors. He will replace Terry Ryan, who was fired as general manager in July after spending 18 of the past 22 seasons as the Twins’ top baseball executive.
Falvey is representative of the new wave of baseball executives, with a heavy analytical bent that has enabled him to rise quickly through the Indians. Among those impressed with Falvey’s work is Cleveland manager Terry Francona.
“If you’re asking about what Derek does, it probably be better to say, ‘What doesn’t he do?’ ” Francona said to Cleveland reporters Monday. “He does everything.”
Falvey has spent the past nine years with Cleveland, learning all facets of baseball operations. Only Milwaukee GM David Stearns — who once was a co-director of baseball operations with Falvey at Cleveland — is younger among those in charge of running a big-league team.
Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president of baseball operations, would not comment on Falvey’s job status.
“What I can tell you is all of us here, including Derek, are focused on helping us secure a postseason berth and then in the event we do that, prepare for the postseason,” he said, perhaps an indication that Falvey will remain with the Indians through the postseason.
For an organization that needs a fresh set of eyes on its operations, Falvey — who pitched at NCAA Division III Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and graduated with an economics degree in 2005 — appears adept in numerous roles.
He joined the Indians in 2007 as an intern. For three years, he assisted in amateur and international scouting. He spent 2011 as the assistant director of baseball operations then was named director of baseball operations, focusing on player personnel and acquisitions. He held that role until last year, when he was named assistant GM. He has helped out in all areas of baseball operations but also assists Francona and his coaches on a daily basis.
“Over the course of time, because he’s a hardworking kid, he made it his, probably his passion, to understand pitching and the delivery,” Francona said. “We go to him a lot with questions. If he doesn’t have the answer, he’ll go find it.
“He’s a great resource for the coaches. Chris [Antonetti] and Chernie [Indians GM Mike Chernoff] use him, too. But we use him a lot.”
The Twins certainly could use all the pitching insight they can get, with a 5.11 team ERA that is the worst in the American League.
Those who know Falvey say he embraces statistical analysis, particularly pitching, but also understands that there is room for old-school approaches to talent evaluation. He embraces debate and welcomes opinions, say those familiar with him.
The Twins are in the final week of potentially their worst season ever. They enter their final six games of the season with a 56-100 record, clinching the worst record in the majors this season and only three losses from establishing a club record for futility. Team officials know change is necessary, but indications are that ownership doesn’t believe an all-out purge of the baseball department is required. Some believe that Falvey might observe things for a while before making major changes.
Francona praised Falvey’s “people skills,” calling him “a rising star, in my opinion.”
Other known candidates for the position — Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo, Cubs Vice President Jason McLeod and Rays VP of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom, along with Twins interim GM Rob Antony — have been informed that they are no longer in the running. Antony could be a candidate for the GM job that Falvey has to fill.
It’s not clear when the Twins will make Falvey’s appointment official. The Twins officially could announce the hire in the coming days while Falvey, who also oversees advance scouting for the Indians, remains with Cleveland through its postseason run before starting his duties with the Twins.
The AL Central-leading Indians have built a team that has scored the second-most runs in the American League this season (751 entering Monday), while allowing the second-fewest (647). They have done it with a payroll estimated at $96.3 million at the beginning of the season, lower than the Twins’ $105.3 million outlay for 2016. And Falvey has had a big hand in it.
“Derek continues to have a huge impact on our organization,” Antonetti said. “He’s a key leader that’s impacted all facets of what we do.”
Staff writer Phil Miller contributed to this report.