Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo called Atlanta Braves decision-makers to recommend his longtime right-hand man, Doug Harris, for their suddenly open general manager’s job, according to people familiar with the situation. Harris is currently the Nationals’ assistant general manager and vice president of player personnel and oversees the minor league system from top to bottom. Rizzo’s right-hand men rarely leave for other organizations — in fact, Rizzo has a habit of accumulating former general managers instead of letting future ones get away.
“I think [Harris] leads well. He administrates beautifully. He’s played. He’s scouted. He’s been in player development,” Rizzo said when asked about Harris. “He’s checked off a lot of boxes that you’d want to go through. And he’s a great communicator. Those are all important things you have to be to take the next step.”
The 47-year-old, who fought off blood cancer this year, has long been considered a rising front-office prospect for a GM position — like the one that opened in Atlanta when John Coppolella resigned abruptly in the wake of a reported MLB investigation. Harris was a scout for the Texas Rangers when current Braves President John Hart was the Rangers’ general manager. Hart praised Harris in a 2015 Post article:
“He’d be a very strong candidate if you look at the next wave of general manager candidates,” Hart said then. “This guy has such tremendous character and [a] great family. He brings a field background and scouting background into everything. He understands the whole analytics and creative pieces. But he also has really good feel for players and the game.”
Rizzo had never worked with Harris before naming him farm director in 2010, but Harris has been with the Nationals ever since, his responsibilities growing little by little to the point that he was promoted to assistant GM and vice president. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that another Nationals higher-up — special assistant Dan Jennings — is considered one of the top two candidates for the Braves’ GM job. Jennings was the general manager and manager of the Marlins before signing on as a special assistant to Rizzo before the 2016 season. Harris has not been talked about as a front-runner.
“It’s a testament to the organization and what we’ve built here,” Rizzo said. “People want to take from successful organizations. [Harris] is a big part of one of the most successful organizations in baseball.”