Braves name Hart as president of baseball operations
ATLANTA -- During a trip to Kansas City for Game 1 of the World Series, John Schuerholz was at a cocktail party with members of the Commissioner's office, owners and other baseball executives and one topic continued to come up.
"Why don't you take talk John Hart into taking a job with the Braves, it would be great for you and especially great for the industry to have him back," Schuerholz, the Braves president said.
Motivated, Schuerholz returned to Atlanta and had his final conversion with Hart. He got his man as he and Hart sat at a table at Turner Field on Thursday as Hart was announced as the Braves' first president of baseball operations.
"I love to compete, doesn't matter what it is," said Hart, 66, who had been serving as the interim general manager after last month's firing of Frank Wren. "I care greatly about doing it the right way. I love team building. I love players. I'm anxious to get to know our players, to get know them better."
The Braves don't plan on hiring a GM and will have assistant GM John Coppolella serve as Hart's top aide.
"It is president of baseball operations," Schuerholz said of Hart's title. "It will have elements of general managing in it, it will have other elements in it. And with his right-hand man John Coppolella, who will assume some duties of a normal general manager and many of an assistant general manager (and) grow under John Hart's direction, it would be a wonderful combination. And that's what we have.”
Hart agreed to a three-year contract, one that will run through the 2017 season, which will be the Braves' first in SunTrust Park.
"We're entrusting in a man to lead our organization back to the top, and what better reward would he want than to move into this beautiful new ballpark we're going to open in 2017?” Schuerholz said. "And he deserves that. He deserves that opportunity."
Thursday's announcement is part of a busy offseason for the Braves' front office.
Along with firing Wren, they revamped their scouring department, adding talent evaluators Roy Clark and Gordon Blakeley and promoted Brian Bridges to scouting directory. Dave Trembley was named director of player development and Jonathan Schuerholz, the 34-year-old son of the team president, who was tabbed as assistant of player development.
Hart was initially hired by the Braves as a senior advisor in Nov. 2013. Previously the GM of the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers, the elder Schuerholz, who has long been close friends with Hart, made it clear from the start he had hoped Hart would assume the job on a full-time basis.
He got his man, even if the job carries with it a different title.
"[He] has demonstrated great ability in constructing winning baseball organizations, winning baseball teams, creating staff of very capable people empowered to do great jobs in each of the organizations he's run," Schuerholz said. "I'm excited John has decided to join us ... and also happy for our organization."