BOSTON — Craig Breslow, a key member of the 2013 world champion Red Sox and a pitcher who has long appeared a strong candidate for a second life in baseball when his playing days are over, is about to make the jump.
The lefty reliever, 38 years old with 12 big league seasons under his belt, is talking to teams about moving to a non-playing role and is weighing his options, Breslow told NBC Sports Boston. The Connecticut native has been in touch with the Red Sox, whom he spent more time with than any other club — a total of five seasons spanning two stints, one in 2006, and then again from 2012-15. But he may find a better fit at this point in time with another club.
A Yale alum who likely would be a doctor today had he not pursued baseball, Breslow has always stood out in the sport for his intelligence and affability. Combined with his success as a pitcher — he has a 3.45 ERA lifetime in 570 2/3 innings — he’s exactly the type of hire many teams seek these days as they try to modernize their coaching, player development and front office staffs in the age of analytics.
The exact path he’ll walk isn’t clear yet, which is kind of the point. Breslow likely could be a general manager if he wanted someday. He likely could be a field manager too. What he seeks in his first job is a means to contribute, as well as knowledge and experience from a wide swath of an operation.
“I'm not ruling anything out or in, aside from gaining broad exposure to become a better rounded student of the game,” Breslow said. “I want to address some of the deficiencies in knowledge I currently have and also provide some short-term value to an organization. Beyond that, I want to keep as many possibilities open for as long as possible while I'm still figuring out my longer term interests.”
For the first time since 2004, Breslow spent a full season in the minor leagues in 2018, pitching in the Blue Jays organization after last appearing in the majors in 2017, with the Indians.
He didn’t perform up to his expectations in ‘18, but he did enjoy acting as a mentor to younger players, and had the realization he’s at the point now where he may be able to better impact a club in other ways besides pitching.
One organization that might be a natural fit for Breslow, besides the Red Sox: the retooling Orioles, now run by Breslow’s rotation-mate from college, Mike Elias.
Even back in 2013, Elias said he had joked with Breslow about Breslow’s seemingly inevitable post-playing career.
"I think as soon as he's finished playing, he's going to have options to do almost whatever he wants to do,” Elias said five years ago. “If he wants to work in the front office or some sort of scouting capacity, what have you, I imagine there will be multiple teams willing to give him that opportunity. He's extremely smart, he's not just smart for a baseball player. On top of that he's got all this experience.
"I would be surprised if after he finished playing he didn't end up remaining in major league baseball in some capacity. I hope it's something he pursues.”
Breslow five years ago was also thinking along those lines.
"I do think front office is potentially an interesting option," Breslow said. "Given the longer I'm attached to this game, the number of trends that I've been a part of and see, I do like to think about roster manipulation and what the thought process is behind transactions, turnovers. When I see contracts, I think about, 'If I had monopoly money and I was starting a team, would I make this commitment to a player, or what kind of things would I value?’
"I've had conversations with Billy [Beane] in Oakland, just kind of generally about running a baseball team ... 'What's your thinking behind that, or why do you think this other team is making this move?' Or if there are transactional things or baseball ops things that I don't understand, I've asked Ben [Cherington] about it or Mike Hazen about it — 'Why does this happen, why does every team put all of its players through waivers in August?’”
Breslow tried to reinvent himself as a pitcher in his later years, changing his arm angle. Now he’s about to reinvent himself again, and he figures to be a hot commodity as teams seek people in his mold.
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