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The MLB manager carousel has been spinning at warp speed since the regular season came to a close.
With news breaking Thursday that Gabe Kapler is out as Philadelphia Phillies manager after two seasons, eight teams are searching for a new bench boss this offseason.
Those clubs range from a rebuilding Kansas City Royals team to a young San Diego Padres club on the rise, all the way up to a Chicago Cubs squad just three years removed from winning a World Series title.
Ahead, we’ve taken a closer look at all eight openings and chosen an ideal fit for each based on the latest rumblings regarding who is in the mix and a healthy dose of subjectivity.
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After they finished a disappointing third in the National League Central with an 84-78 record, the Chicago Cubs decided not to continue on with Joe Maddon in the manger’s seat. His contract expired at the conclusion of the season.
The Cubs made the playoffs in each of his first four seasons with the team and won a World Series title in 2016, but it became clear throughout the course of a disappointing 2019 that a new voice was needed.
According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the interview process is already underway, and bench coach Mark Loretta got the first crack last Thursday.
Joe Girardi has also met with the team, undergoing an eight-hour interview on Wednesday, while David Ross and Will Venable are scheduled to interview. Carlos Beltran and Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada join them on the candidate list, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Not to discount the other candidates, but this might come down to Ross vs. Girardi.
Ross has the respect of the clubhouse, but he’s lacking in experience. It’s also worth wondering if he’s too close to the situation as several former teammates are still on the roster from his time with the squad in 2015 and 2016.
Girardi has the experience with 11 seasons and a World Series title with the New York Yankees under his belt, and he comes with a no-nonsense reputation that would largely run counter to what Maddon brought to the table.
In the end, Ross would seem to provide the perfect mix of continuity and freshness that the team needs as it looks to bounce back.
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With Ned Yost retiring after 10 seasons steering the Kansas City Royals’ ship, the rebuilding organization is looking for a new manager for the first time in a decade.
In-house assistants Mike Matheny, Dale Sveum, Pedro Grifol and Vance Wilson were all mentioned by general manager Dayton Moore as “strong candidates” when he talked with Josh Lewin and Jon Heyman on the Big Time Baseball podcast.
Matheny, who currently serves as a special advisor to the team, has been the heavy favorite since Yost first announced his retirement in late September.
While the team has yet to begin the interview process, it might be a quick one if the front office does in fact already have its sights set on Matheny.
The 49-year-old endured his fair share of criticism during his time with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he also won 591 games with a .555 winning percentage, and he took home the NL pennant in 2013.
If the front office believes in his leadership abilities and he already has a working relationship with Moore and others, he may well be the best man for the job.
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The Los Angeles Angels and former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon have seemingly been on a collision course since it was first announced that Brad Ausmus had been fired after just one year on the job.
Maddon spent the first 31 years of his post-playing career inside the Angels organization, starting out as a scout in 1979 and eventually serving as Mike Scioscia’s bench coach from 2000-05 before he left to take the Tampa Bay Rays manager job.
He officially interviewed for the vacant post on Oct. 7, and it went “very well,” per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, who noted the Angels are Maddon’s first choice and owner Arte Moreno is said to want him back.
This one seems more or less wrapped up, barring something unexpected.
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It was not a foregone conclusion that Mickey Callaway would be fired by the New York Mets after the team climbed back into contention with a 46-26 second half.
However, the rumor mill began to swirl once he was axed.
While former outfielder and future Hall of Famer Carlos Beltran looked more like a speculative fit than a potential candidate early on, there is now a very real possibility he will be the team’s next manager.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Beltran and Arizona Diamondbacks farm director Mike Bell will both be given interviews, while Joe Girardi is also a strong candidate.
There are many reasons to believe Beltran will be the choice, and Rosenthal spelled them out well.
He noted Beltran is bilingual, a strong communicator and a former player who spent 2005-11 with the Mets. Also, one of the Mets executives is Allard Baird, who was his general manager with the Kansas City Royals. Another is Omar Minaya, who signed Beltran as a free agent when he was the Mets general manager.
The 42-year-old could have a long career ahead of him as a manager, and the Mets appear to have a chance to get in at the ground floor.
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Joe Girardi has experience handling the bright lights of a big city from the 10 years he spent managing the New York Yankees. That decade also gave him plenty of exposure to the pitfalls that come with managing a roster full of high-priced stars and their respective egos.
With that in mind, he might be the perfect guy to get the most out of a Philadelphia Phillies team that spent big last offseason only to finish a distant fourth in the NL East with an 81-81 record.
Since the Kapler firing is still fresh, there is no preliminary list of candidates or impending interviews to give us insight into what the front office is looking for in its next manager.
However, on paper, Girardi certainly seems like a good fit.
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The Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening might be the toughest to predict.
Clint Hurdle filled the position for the past nine years, but it was clear he lost the locker room amid a 2019 season in which the team endured a brutal 69-92 record on the field and dealt with in-fighting between its players behind the scenes.
Former All-Star catcher Jason Kendall would seem as good a candidate as any to follow in Hurdle’s footsteps. He has also expressed interest in the vacancy.
“There’s something that I owe to the city of Pittsburgh,” Kendall told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I truly believe that. That’s why I would be interested in sitting down and talking about it.”
But what about his lack of experience?
“I know I can manage,” he told Mackey. “I’m sure some people will say, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have managerial experience.’ I basically managed when I played, especially later in my career.”
Since finishing the 2010 campaign with 2,195 career hits and three All-Star appearances, Kendall has served as a special assignment coach with the Kansas City Royals, though he took the 2019 season off. Former Texas Rangers manager Jeff Bannister is another name to watch here, but Kendall’s passion for the team and the city could be exactly what the Pirates need to bounce back from a disastrous 2019.
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Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
While Joe Girardi and David Ross are the two most-talked-about managerial candidates for the Chicago Cubs, current bench coach Mark Loretta is also a legitimate possibility. He was brought in as the team’s bench coach last offseason, and many believed he was being groomed as Maddon’s heir apparent at the end of the season.
That could still wind up being the case. But if he doesn’t land the gig on the North Side, he also has strong ties to the San Diego Padres organization.
Current Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer hired him to a front-office role in 2010 when he was still the Padres’ general manager, and Loretta was actually part of the hiring process when the team chose recently ousted Andy Green prior to the 2016 season, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Could he wind up taking the job of the man he helped hire?
He certainly knows the organization well, and he has long been viewed as a future managerial candidate.
The Padres job might be the most attractive opening thanks to their impressive collection of young talent and the front office’s willingness to spend. As such, they will likely take their time with this process and interview a wide range of candidates.
In the end, familiarity and youth could make the 48-year-old Loretta the man for the job.
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Matt Slocum/Associated Press
It’s been quite some time since the San Francisco Giants were hunting for a new manager. Bruce Bochy has held the job since 2007, winning 1,052 games and three World Series titles in his 13 seasons with the team before announcing 2019 would be his final campaign.
Now president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi will have a chance to hand-pick his guy, and the recently ousted Gabe Kapler is someone who would qualify as “his guy” based on their history.
An ESPN News Services article offered up the following after it was announced that Kapler had been fired from his post with the Philadelphia Phillies: “Rival executives have wondered if Kapler might emerge as a managerial candidate with the Giants because of his ties with San Francisco’s Farhan Zaidi, according to [ESPN’s Buster] Olney. Zaidi, the Giants’ head of baseball operations, used to work with Kapler in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office.”
According to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, Zaidi is expected to interview six-to-eight external candidates, while Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus will both get a chance as internal options.
There’s no clear front-runner. But given Zaidi’s relationship with Kapler, he looks like a good fit for the sake of organizational cohesion from the front office on down to the bench.
All stats and managerial records courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.