The Twins played their first game at Target Field without Terry Ryan in charge on Tuesday, and his absence was felt all over the ballpark. “Coming in today, it’s another level of having to absorb that change,” Paul Molitor said. “I’m accustomed to seeing him here every day. … It’s a little different today.”
But like the team’s manager, the Twins have begun moving on without their longtime general manager, fired last week after 18 seasons of guiding the team. Interim GM Rob Antony described his efforts to alter the roster before next Monday’s nonwaiver trade deadline. And team President Dave St. Peter outlined the team’s initial steps toward replacing Antony — or not.
The Twins have hired executive search firm Korn Ferry to assist St. Peter and Twins owner Jim Pohlad in identifying, evaluating and interviewing candidates for the job. While St. Peter reiterated his intention to consider internal candidates — Antony chief among them — the move is a concrete sign the Twins are interested in bringing in a new baseball boss.
“We will be very open with Rob about where we are in the search,” St. Peter said. “It’s very likely at some point in the near future we’re going to sit down with Rob and talk about his interest.”
St. Peter said he spoke last week with Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro, and Pohlad called Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, and both strongly recommended Korn Ferry to help with the hiring process. It’s the same firm Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor used earlier this year to land Tom Thibodeau as coach and president of basketball operations.
With Korn Ferry’s assistance, the Brewers selected former Rangers assistant GM David Stearns and the Blue Jays chose Indians President of Player Personnel Ross Atkins last fall. In both cases, an internal candidate was a finalist, but the team chose an outside hire.
“It became pretty evident [Korn Ferry was] the industry leader. We like the work that they’ve done,” St. Peter said. “They’ve done multiple searches inside the commissioner’s office, including for Commissioner [Rob] Manfred,” a search conducted by a committee that included Pohlad.
Pohlad and St. Peter already have spoken with Manfred and his staff about their vacancy; MLB frequently also offers the names of potential candidates from around the game.
“They are a tremendous resource for outside perspective on our own people, as well as perspective on folks across the game,” St. Peter said. “By all means, we will continue to lean heavily on MLB throughout this search. Commissioner Manfred feels it’s important to assist teams in getting these hires right.”
Korn Ferry will conduct background checks on potential candidates, and even could help with matters such as psychological tests, St. Peter said. He and Pohlad will conduct all interviews of finalists, but the search firm might help streamline the process. St. Peter said he’s still hopeful a permanent general manager will be in place by season’s end, but conceded that the hiring could be pushed back if an appealing candidate is unavailable until after his team is eliminated from the postseason.
Still, he hopes to begin contacting teams seeking permission to speak to potential candidates within a couple of weeks, he said.
And if the Twins choose someone other than Antony, the chief assistant to Ryan and predecessor Bill Smith since 2007? The interim GM might be retained under a new administration anyway, St. Peter said. It’s even possible that a new baseball boss might have a more senior title, with a GM, perhaps Antony, working under him.
“That’s one thing we’re working on now — the structure that best suits the Twins,” St. Peter said. Antony, like some other front-office employees, are under contract through the end of the 2017 season, St. Peter said.
St. Peter and Pohlad have been contacted by several executives from around the game in the past week, some to recommend potential candidates — and some to inquire about the job for themselves. “We remain confident it’s a job that has great appeal,” St. Peter said.