Amidst Managerial Shake-Ups, These 5 MLB Teams Are Looking for a New Leader: Who Are the Top Candidates?
2023 has been a topsy-turvy year for many teams. While some have outshone others, these 5 teams are at a crossroads, with a common stifling problem. Amid the heavy restructuring that many of the MLB teams have seen of late, there are pentagonal vacancies for managers. The New York Mets, the Los Angeles Angels, the Houston Astros, the Cleveland Guardians, and the San Diego Padres are in dire need of filling up the managerial position as the year ends.
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While some team representatives skim through names within the MLB world, some hope to look for an outside hire. It could be a risky state for all of them. Nevertheless, there are many possibilities and roadblocks one might encounter. Be it budgetary issues, past performance, or availability of candidates, these teams have not had success in putting a pin on one candidate. That said, the skipper market is abuzz!
Starting With The Los Angeles Angels
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After Joe Maddon was relieved of his managerial duties, Phil Nevin signed up as the interim manager for the remaining 106 games of 2022. Post that, he went on to sign a one-year contract to manage the Angels in 2023, and the interim tag was lifted. Nevin’s 2024 club option was rejected by the Halos, who underwent partial two seasons of 119-149 (.444) play under his supervision. Since this was a non-negotiable, the seat stands vacant.
The biggest challenge in this scenario is that the Angels star, Shohei Ohtani is yet to reveal which team he would be joining. In case the Angels re-sign the two-way phenom, the manager would get to head the roster with the 2021 MVP and Mike Trout. A once in a lifetime opportunity. On the flip side, if they lose Ohtani, the roster would need a solid revamp. Not to mention the Angles are infamous for their below-par farm system and playoff drought spanning 9 seasons.
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With that out in the open, what are the possible options for the Halos? Ray Montgomery could be an option, considering that he began his tenure with the Angels. Walt Weiss could potentially be a decent fit, too. Weiss has been a part of a successful team in the Atlanta Braves recently, having been their bench coach since before the 2018 season. Additionally, among other options are Ron Washington and Clayton McCullough. Though these options are open, no solid information has been revealed yet as to who would fill up the position.
Moving On To The Houston Astros
After his fourth season with the Astros and his 26th big league managerial season, Dusty Baker announced his retirement last week. Houston won the 2022 World Series and two pennants while the 74-year-old was in charge. Despite the starry possibilities of winning, the Texas Rangers defeated the Astros in the ALCS 2023.
With that seat now waiting to be warmed up, the future manager would manage a seasoned roster that appears ready to make another push at winning a World Series after winning six of the previous seven AL West championships. However, given Luis Garcia’s Tommy John surgery and Lance McCullers Jr.’s forearm surgery, the starting pitchers are expected to be shaky.
That said, there are some obvious options available to replace Dusty. One of the most sensible picks for a smooth transition would be Joe Espada, age 48. Since 2018, he has been the bench coach for the Astros. Baker relied on him in the dugout throughout his productive tenure as manager of Houston.
Apart from him, Buck Showalter, former New York Mets manager, Don Mattingly, Toronto Blue Jays bench coach, and A. J. Hinch, Detroit Tigers manager could be other possibilities.
Next Up Is Cleveland Guardians
Following an 11-year tenure with Cleveland that included leading the team to a 921-757 record (.549), six playoff trips, and the 2016 AL pennant, Terry Francona announced his resignation. The record made him the winningest manager in franchise history. He had managed the Guardians till the conclusion of the 2023 season, but now, owing to health concerns, he decides to put his wellbeing first.
Since Cleveland usually has one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, the team’s lineup won’t be receiving a lot of outside reinforcement. It is clear that the Guardians are not keen on getting someone from within MLB; they are open to outside hires as well. As long as the new candidate can follow Terry’s principles.
One applicant slated for an interview was Craig Albernaz. He is the catching and bullpen coach for the San Francisco Giants, according to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. Despite lacking Major League managerial experience, the 40-year-old has led two championship-winning Tampa Bay Rays teams. Another likely candidate could be Carlos Mendoza, who is the bench coach for the New York Yankees. Though he too lacks managerial experience in MLB, the 43-year-old is familiar with the Yankees system, suiting well for Cleveland.
Speaking Of NY, The New York Mets Are On The Lookout
In his first season as manager, Buck Showalter guided the Mets to a 101-61 record. With that, he earned him the 2022 NL Manager of the Year Award. However, despite having baseball’s largest budget, the Mets ended their 2023 with a disastrous 75-87. Under the new president of baseball operations David Stearns, the organization is taking a fresh approach. The man who described 2023 as “the roller coaster of disappointment and hope” presiding over the Mets views his limited options.
Gabe Kapler made the exit three days before the San Francisco Giants season’s conclusion; he could post as a suited candidate. Another likely possibility would be Craig Counsell, who is nearing the end of his contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Counsell is the guy to watch out for this summer because of his excellent relationship with David Stearns. This newest president of baseball operations for the Mets is a former Brewer himself.
The Fifth Team In The List Is San Diego Padres
Bob Melvin was said to be returning to the Padres as manager, despite the team’s 82-80 record and 2023 postseason absence. But in a turn of events, the San Francisco Giants hired Melvin when San Diego gave permission to interview him for SanFran’s managerial vacancy.
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Now, the Padres’ vacant position is linking to former Cardinals manager Mike Shildt multiple times. Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that Shildt is the front-runner to take over. “The Padres will be hiring their sixth manager in just 10 years under (general manager) A. J. Preller. Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is the favorite while associate manager Ryan Flaherty is getting strong consideration,” Nightengale said. With that, one has to wait and watch who serves as the best fit.
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With the facts broken down, it is a matter of time that the teams narrow down their best options. MLB world will welcome 2024 with high expectations. With new management, the fans expect teams to come back with great vigor and ferocity.
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