Former Baltimore Orioles general manager Frank Wren was hired today by the Atlanta Braves as their vice president and assistant general manager, landing a coveted job with what is widely considered baseball's best-run franchise less than a week after being fired by the Orioles.
Gushing praise over Wren's record as an executive and his reputation around baseball, Braves Executive Vice President and General Manager John Schuerholz made the announcement today before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
Wren, who was signed to a three-year contract, is expected to join the Braves early next week. Wren also received a promotion of sorts, since his position with the Orioles did not include the title of vice president.
"His credentials are absolutely perfect for this position," Schuerholz said. "He has expertise in baseball administration, management, basic agreement matters, contract negotiations, all matters of administrative requirements. . . . He is eminently qualified. I can't imagine anyone being more qualified to fill this position than Frank is."
"I'm excited to go to what I think is the best organization in baseball," Wren said. "They have their emphasis on all the right areas. Top to bottom, it's just a solid organization."
Schuerholz said Wren became the Braves' top candidate as soon as it became apparent he would be fired by the Orioles. Schuerholz first contacted Wren last Wednesday, the same day the Orioles informed Wren of his termination. He interviewed with Schuerholz and Braves President Stan Kasten on Monday in Atlanta, and informed the Orioles of his new position this morning. He replaced Dean Taylor, who left to become general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Wren, 41, was fired by the Orioles just one year into his three-year contract. In a statement released Thursday night, the Orioles cited "a season-long series of incidents," including Wren's ordering a team plane to take off on a cross-country trip without Cal Ripken, who had phoned to say he was running late. However, Wren also clashed throughout the year with majority owner Peter Angelos on several issues, including the status of Manager Ray Miller.
Wren's acrimonious split from the Orioles "is not an issue that concerned us," Schuerholz said. ". . . He has excellent work habits and handles himself in a very professional fashion."
However, after a trying 12-month stint with the Orioles marked by organizational turmoil and personal dissatisfaction, Wren clearly was drawn to the Braves' stability. Schuerholz has the longest tenure with the same team of any GM in baseball, and Bobby Cox has been the Braves' manager since 1990. This year marks the Braves' eighth consecutive appearance in the NLCS.
Wren would not address his firing by the Orioles--his lawyer is still in negotiations over his settlement. But Wren said he was contacted by "three or four" other teams, and chose the Braves largely because of that stability.
"My primary focus was stability both for me professionally and for my family," he said. "And when you look at stability, the organization at the top of the charts is the Braves. Once I found out they were interested and had a meaningful position, I wanted to make it work. They made me feel like they really wanted me."
"He's very well respected, and I think he feels the same way about our organization," Schuerholz said. "I think he felt a real attraction to work in an environment like we have here that would allow him to expand his horizons as a baseball executive and perhaps even enhance his future as a baseball executive."
Before accepting the Orioles' job a year ago, Wren had served as the Florida Marlins' assistant GM from 1991 to '98, and spent 15 years before that in the Montreal Expos' organization as a minor league player, coach, scout and executive.
Wren has indicated his desire to be a GM again, and Schuerholz said today that Wren "positively" will be a GM again, "maybe soon." It is unclear whether that opportunity could present itself in Atlanta. Schuerholz, 59, has given no indication of stepping down.