Tampa Bay Rays Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations & General Manager Erik Neander has been named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. Neander was the runner up for the Award at its inauguration last year.
The official Award is bestowed by MLB and resulted from voting among the 30 Clubs, each of which had one vote. The runner-up for the 2019 honor was Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees, while Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics and Derek Falvey of the Minnesota Twins tied for third.
Neander’s accomplishments with the club were listed as follows:
The Rays finished the 2019 regular season with a 96-66 (.593) record – the seventh best in all of MLB – en route to an American League Wild Card berth. Their regular season marked a six-win improvement from 2018. Tampa Bay’s 96 wins were tied for second-most in franchise history, behind only the franchise’s 2008 AL pennant-winning 97-win team. The Rays then won the AL Wild Card Game over the host A’s before falling in a five-game Division Series to the eventual AL Champion Houston Astros.
Last off-season, the Rays signed former All-Stars Charlie Morton and Avisaíl García in free agency and traded for infielder Yandy Díaz and reliever Emilio Pagán. Morton was joined in the 2019 Midsummer Classic by outfielder Austin Meadows, who was acquired at the 2018 Trade Deadline along with pitcher Tyler Glasnow, and rookie Brandon Lowe. This May, Tampa Bay brought aboard catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who went on to post 16 home runs and a .459 slugging percentage in 92 games. Before the 2019 Trade Deadline, the innovative Rays acquired pitcher Nick Anderson, first baseman Jesús Aguilar and infielder Eric Sogard. Many previous Rays’ trade acquisitions, including Tommy Pham, Ji-Man Choi and Ryan Yarbrough, all contributed to a deep and versatile roster in 2019, which utilized club records of 57 players total and 33 pitchers. Tampa Bay held one of the AL’s five Postseason slots for nearly 90% of the season.
Neander, which the Rays identify as Tampa Bay’s top-ranking baseball operations official, issued the following statement in response to the honor:
I am both humbled and honored to be recognized by Major League Baseball and the executives who voted on the award. This recognition deserves to be shared across our entire staff, as well as the players who left it all on the field. It’s our collective commitment that allows something like this to be possible. While we fell short of our ultimate on-field goal in 2019, I am proud of our progress and we’ll do all we can to build upon that in the coming years.
Previously, Neander was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year, along side Kevin Cash for Manager of the Year, an award dating back to 1936.