The Tampa Bay Rays, so often an incubator for front-office talent around the league, are going to keep their lead decision-maker in place for the foreseeable future. The Rays have signed general manager Erik Neander to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Wednesday. Neander will also now have the title of president of baseball operations.
Neander, 38, has been a member of the Rays' front office since 2007, and he's served as GM and vice president of baseball operations since November of 2016. The 2021 season marks the fifth for Neander in that role and the fourth in which he's served as the Rays' top baseball operations executive.
Without question, the Rays have enjoyed significant success under Neander despite strict payroll constraints, whether willful on the part of ownership or otherwise. The club not long ago secured its fourth straight winning season, and over that span their worst season win percentage is .556 in 2018, when they won 90 games.
The Rays in the abbreviated 2020 season won the American League pennant for the second time in franchise history and this season have a large lead in the tough AL East and are on pace for a franchise-record 103 wins. Given that recent run, it's not hard to figure why owner Stuart Sternberg was motivated to keep Neander in the fold.
In recent years, the Rays have seen executives depart for lead or highly placed roles with the Dodgers, Astros, and Red Sox. Neander, though, will continue providing stability at the top for Tampa Bay for some time. On the other side of things, you may consider one of the most coveted front-office targets for other teams to be off-limits, at least for the foreseeable future.