DENVER (AP) - Jeff Bridich is stepping down as general manager of the Colorado Rockies, ending a tumultuous tenure that included two playoff appearances and a falling out with Nolan Arenado that ultimately led to the star third baseman’s offseason trade.
The Rockies announced Monday that the decision was a mutual agreement with Bridich, who was in his seventh season as GM. The team will appoint an interim general manager for the rest of the season before launching a search following the postseason.
Bridich said in a statement that he recently had a conversation with owner Dick Monfort and newly appointed team president Greg Feasel about the team’s future.
“It became abundantly clear that ushering in a new leadership structure is critically important,” Bridich said. “With that in mind we arrived at this decision to part ways, and ultimately it will be what is best for the Rockies and for me. Change can be a great thing for an organization and for the individuals who comprise it. Dick has a clear vision for the Rockies, and after nearly seven seasons as General Manager I believe it is time for someone else to help lead that vision.”
The Harvard-educated Bridich joined the organization in 2004 and rose through the ranks. He was named senior director of baseball operations in ‘06 and later held the position of senior director of player development. He was promoted to general manager in October 2014.
“Over the last week, Jeff, Greg and I determined that it was in the best interest of Jeff, his family and the Rockies, for him to step down as general manager,” Monfort said in a statement. “I’m saddened by this, but I have accepted the fact that we must move on. … I’m grateful for his leadership, professionalism and hard work. I wish Jeff and his family nothing but the very best.”
Under Bridich, the club made the playoffs as a wild card in 2017 and ‘18. It’s the only time in franchise history the Rockies have made back-to-back postseason appearances.
And this seemed to signal another big commitment to winning: The Rockies locked up Arenado - the face of the franchise - with a $260 million, eight-year deal in February 2019. But it didn’t take long for things to turn sour with Bridich and the front office. Arenado wasn’t pleased with the direction of a team that missed the postseason in ‘19 and again last season.
Arenado, an eight-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star, was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals on Feb. 1 for Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers in a deal that was criticized across the baseball community. As part of the trade, the Rockies agreed to pay St. Louis $51 million of the $199 million remaining on Arenado’s contract at the time. Arenado’s contract was amended after he was traded.
The trade of Arenado drew the ire of Rockies fans, with hashtags such as “#RockiesBoycott” and “#FireBridich” popping up on social media. Bridich also dealt Troy Tulowitzki - another fan favorite - to Toronto in 2015 for a package of players that included Jose Reyes.
Bridich’s signings over the years have included Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond, along with relievers such as Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis.
“Working in professional baseball is not just a job, it’s a round-the-clock lifestyle,” Bridich said. “There are innumerable people in the Rockies organization who are committed to that lifestyle, and I want to thank all of those folks for their volume of work, their care and concern for each other and their collective belief in the organization.
“Finally, a big THANK YOU to Rockies fans for loving our players and for consistently showing up in support of the team through thick and thin.”
The Rockies have another big decision looming with All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. He appears in line for a sizeable payday, too, after San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. finalized a $340 million, 14-year contract and Francisco Lindor agreed to a $341 million, 10-year deal with the New York Mets.
On Monday, the Rockies named Feasel team president in addition to his role of being in charge of the club’s business operations. His duties include overseeing the organization’s involvement in the All-Star Game set for July after it was recently moved to Coors Field.
Rockies manager Bud Black referenced how hard being a GM is every day of the year - and that Bridich was present and focused on the team even earlier Sunday, before later alerting Black he would step aside.
“Jeff indicated that the Rockies and those of us downstairs in uniform are in a good place and basically he felt it was time,” Black said.
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.
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