Ranking baseball’s general managers for 2018: Part 3

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: General Manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics sits in the clubhouse prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 13, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 7-6. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: General Manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics sits in the clubhouse prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 13, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 7-6. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – MAY 02: Houston Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow on the field during batting practice prior to an MLB game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees on May 2, 2018 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.. (Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

6. Jeff Luhnow, Houston Astros, +3.3 games

With a World Series championship roster, Luhnow wisely emphasized quality over quantity in his roster decisions. Only 24 players came and/or went between the ends of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, making Houston something of a sea of tranquility on the baseball landscape. A couple of those moves, though, were major.

Begin with the obvious, the trade for Gerrit Cole to buttress an already-strong rotation.  One of only four players to arrive by trade all season, Cole’s 15-5 record and 2.88 ERA in 32 starts must have surpassed expectations; it yielded a +3.4 WAA.

Luhnow’s one regret might be his failure to pursue the re-signing of free agent Mike Fiers, who left for Detroit (and eventually Oakland), where he delivered a 12-8 record and 3.56 ERA in 30 starts, good for +2.2 WAA.

Most of the rest of what Luhnow did in 2018 amounted to tinkering around the edges. His trade deadline acquisition of pitcher Ryan Pressly from the Twins for two minor leagues was a modest (+0.8) benefit, as was his decision to give George Springer a two-year, $24 million deal.

Luhnow used nine first-year farm system products in 2018, but none in front-line roles. The most impactful, reserve outfielder Kyle Tucker and backup catcher J.D. Davis, produced negative WAAs, but neither played enough to be of consequence.