The Red Sox front office is in the midst of significant turnover, as Larry Lucchino has stepped down as president, creating a void that has been filled by new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski's arrival signaled the resignation of Ben Cherington, who had the opportunity to still be general manager, but not one with the power of decision-making he had grown used to since taking over before the 2012 season. That change is set to continue, as a new GM must be hired, and the "leading candidate" at the moment appears to be former Braves GM Frank Wren, according to Bob Nightengale and Ken Rosenthal.
Wren's time in charge of the Braves had its issues, but it's also difficult to compare his preparedness for the Red Sox job with that of any other gig he's had: with Dombrowski taking on the same kind of role that Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman have with the Cubs and Dodgers, respectively, where the team president is akin to a Super GM and the GM is a leading voice but not the leading voice, Wren wouldn't have all the power and responsibility he's had in the past. Like, say, Dombrowski could overrule him the next time he thinks about signing Dan Uggla to a long-term deal. You know, hypothetically.
That was an unavoidable low point, but the Braves also developed a number of significant homegrown talents under Wren, and locked many of them up as well. Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman were drafted months before Wren took over, but otherwise, their rise came during Wren's tenure. Craig Kimbrel was selected in 2008 under Wren, Alex Wood in 2012... he's had his hands on names you know, and the farm system was never the issue in Atlanta. If he were to come to Boston, Dombrowski could keep him from some of his more egregious mistakes on the free agent side. In theory, anyway.
Wren and Dombrowski have worked together before, as when Dombrowski was the general manager of the Montreal Expos. Wren was the assistant director of scouting and then the director of Latin American scouting for Montreal in the mid-to-late-80s, and then when Dombrowski became the GM of the expansion Marlins, Wren went with him as his assistant GM and eventually became the team's vice president.
Wren might sound like a problem, and maybe he will be, but the Red Sox are unlikely to sign an established and incredibly successful general manager to this role, for the very reason that Cherington resigned. The power is just not what it used to be, because the real general manager is Dave Dombrowski. Whoever comes in to this gig is going to have power and authority, but not to the degree that a GM for most of the rest of the league would. Farhan Zaidi's first GM gig, which he was never going to get with the A's while David Forst and Billy Beane are around, has come under Friedman in Los Angeles. Even Jed Hoyer went to work with Theo Epstein in Chicago because of problems with Padres ownership -- Jeff Moorad was fine with Hoyer bailing for a lateral move that actually wasn't lateral because another former Sox front office member, Josh Byrnes, a favorite of Moorad, was there to be installed as the GM. Hoyer had more power and responsibility in San Diego, but he also had an owner that didn't hire him lurking in the shadows at all times.
There will be other names, other "leading contenders" so don't concern yourself too much either way with Wren just yet. Just take Boston's interest in him as a sign that a whole lot of things have changed because of one hiring.