The GM stars of winter

Oakland GM Billy Beane worked some serious magic this offseason. Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman certainly made the biggest splash this offseason, spending more than $440 million on free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka. After trading for Prince Fielder and signing Shin-Shoo Choo, Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels probably made the second loudest noise.

However, if history has taught baseball GMs anything, teams that make the biggest moves rarely end up winning the World Series. Just ask Los Angeles Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, whose 2011 and 2012 teams disappointed greatly after the organization signed big-name free agents Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton in successive years.

So while Cashman and Daniels made big splashes, they weren’t the general manager stars of the offseason. That title belongs to a pair of small-market geniuses: the Oakland Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Andrew Friedman.

Indeed, much of baseball has grown accustomed to Beane and Friedman dominating the sport with limited resources and always finding ways to contend with the big-market teams who spend two and three times what they spend, and this offseason was no different.