Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was voted The Sporting News baseball executive of the year following the team's worst-to-first turnaround.
The award, based on a vote of 31 major league executives, was announced Monday night at the annual GM meetings. Voting ended before the post-season, when the Red Sox went on to win their third World Series title in 10 years and first since Cherington succeeded Theo Epstein as general manager in October 2011.
Cherington received 15 votes, followed by Pittsburgh's Neal Huntington (nine), Kansas City's Dayton Moore (four) and Atlanta's Frank Wren (three). Boston won the award for the fourth time, following owner Tom Yawkey (1946) and GM Dick O'Connell (1967 and '75).
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"Definitely unexpected," Cherington said. "I consider this to be an award for the organization, not for me. Coming off the year we had in 2012, I also sort of see it as usually an award that goes to an organization that does work over a period of time and not necessarily in one year."
Following a late collapse in 2011, Boston was decimated by injuries last year and went 69-93 under first-year manager Bobby Valentine, its poorest record since 1965. A roster turnover began in August 2012 when Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and their big-money contracts were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that saved Boston just more than $261.66 million US through 2018.
Valentine was fired after the season and replaced by former Toronto manager John Farrell, Boston's pitching coach from 2007-10. The Red Sox restocked during the off-season by signing seven major league free agents for contracts of three years or fewer at a total of $100.45 million, a group that included Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew, David Ross and Ryan Dempster. They helped Boston win the AL East, return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and help the city heal following the Boston Marathon bombings in April.
Drew, Napoli and Jacoby Ellsbury turned down Boston's $14.1 million qualifying offers Monday, and the Red Sox would receive additional draft picks at the end of the first round in June if they sign elsewhere. Cherington said the Red Sox continue to talk with the three along with free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
"There's real interest, but nothing more than that," Cherington said.
For Cherington and his staff, the 2013 title is an accomplishment to savour, but it's also in the past already.
"I think by now everyone has forgotten the World Series," he said, "and it's on to the off-season work."