Rays' Andrew Friedman

Steve Gould

Baltimore Sun

Baseball's most competitive division features perhaps its three best front office chiefs and one (the Blue Jays' Alex Anthopoulos) quickly on the rise.

The Yankees' Brian Cashman and the Red Sox's Theo Epstein have built perennial World Series contenders by assembling All-Star teams while maintaining impressive farm systems. However, the standard disclaimer applies: Because of the payrolls at their disposal, it's hard to evaluate their acumen.

Andrew Friedman doesn't suffer — or benefit — from this caveat. He has led the Rays out of the basement by stocking the organization with smart draft picks and not handcuffing its future by handing out exorbitant contracts.

With fewer resources, Friedman has built a club that gives Boston and New York a run for their considerable money every season.


Rangers' Jon Daniels

Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

A GM's biggest job is accumulating talented players, and nobody in the modern game does that better than Texas' Jon Daniels.

The kid just turned 34 and already he has traded for Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, nabbed Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz from the Braves for a hard-to-sign Mark Teixeira, brought Colby Lewis back from Japan and snatched Cliff Lee out of the Yankees' hands — all while systematically building one of the deepest farm systems in the game and surviving a team bankruptcy and unstable ownership situation.

That's as good as it gets.


Phillies' Ruben Amaro

Mandy Housenick

The Morning Call

The rule of thumb is it takes time to be good at your job, no matter what it is. Consider Ruben Amaro Jr. a rebel.

Every time the Phillies general manager, who took the reins from Pat Gillick after the 2008 championship season, acquires a top-name free agent (Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco) or pulls off a trade to get a big-time player (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, Roy Oswalt), you can't help but think Amaro can't possibly make it happen again, at least not anytime soon.