Four of the six teams looking for managers filled their managerial vacancies last week and the Los Angeles Angels’ Brad Ausmus is the only one to have previously managed in the major leagues.
That leaves just the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers looking for skippers.
The Orioles likely won’t have a manager in place for a while as Baltimore is still looking to replace vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who was fired at the end of the season. Presumably, Duquette’s replacement will lead the search for the successor to Buck Showalter, who had a 669-684 in nine years with three postseason appearances.
The Rangers have an opening after firing Jeff Banister with 10 games left in the season. He was 325-312 in four years and won American League West titles in 2015 and 2016.
Interim manager Dan Wakamatsu is reportedly in the running for the job along with Rangers assistant general manager Jayce Tingler, Angels Triple-A manager Eric Chavez, St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A manager Stubby Clapp, Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Chicago Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde and Philadelphia Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan.
Meanwhile, here is a look at the four manager hires:
Brad Ausmus, Angels
Ausmus had a 314-332 record with the Detroit Tigers from 2014-17, winning the AL Central title in his first season. A case can be made that his teams underachieved and there were times when there was a feeling that he didn’t really enjoy being a manager.
However, Ausmus did get more comfortable in the job as time went on. The Dartmouth graduate is also smart enough to learn from the mistakes he made in his first stint as a manager and be better prepared the second time around, admitting he now embraces analytics more after spending this season working as a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler.
Ausmus also has the advantage of being familiar with the Angels’ personnel. He inherits a team that went 80-82 in Mike Scioscia’s 19th and final season as manager.
The Angels are willing spend as evidenced by their $168-million payroll being the seventh-highest in the major leagues at the end of the season. Eppler says the Angels have the means to pursue starting pitching in free agency.
Rocco Baldelli, Twins
When Baldelli was a rookie center fielder in 2003, former Tampa Bay owner Vince Naimoli said he was reminded of Joe DiMaggio. However, injuries and a medical condition that causes his muscles to easily fatigue shortened Baldelli’s career and he moved into the front office before spending the four years on the Rays’ coach staff.
As a player, Baldelli was always a joy to interview. He had a great curiosity about baseball and the comings and goings in the sport, seeming to ask as many questions as he was asked.
In many regards, Baldelli is reminiscent of a young Terry Francona, now the Cleveland Indians’ manager.
Francona also had a promising playing career curtailed by injuries. Like Francona, Baldelli has a way of connecting with everyone and making them feel at ease.
Baldelli replaces Paul Molitor, who was fired following a disappointing 78-84 season that left him with a 305-343 career record in four seasons.
The Twins’ $128-million payroll was middle of the pack at 17th. However, the 37-year-old Baldelli’s biggest task will be to get the once-promising careers of third baseman Miguel Sano and center fielder Byron Buxton back on track.
David Bell, Reds
Bell replaces Jim Riggleman, who took over for Bryan Price on an interim bases in April. The Reds finished last in the National League Central for the fourth straight season with a 67-95 record.
I got to know Bell during his four-year stint on the Cardinals’ coaching staff from 2014-17 and was very impressed.
He is personable, well-organized and knows the game, which is not a surprise since he is from a three-generation baseball family as his grandfather Gus and father Buddy had long major league playing careers, David Bell was a third baseman in the major leagues for 12 years and spent this season as the San Francisco Giants’ vice president of player development.
A Cincinnati native, Bell is stepping into a difficult situation as the Reds have lost at least at least 94 games each of the last four seasons. Bell has the smarts to succeed, though the Reds need to help him by overhauling their pitching staff and improving their scouting and developing of pitchers.
Cincinnati ranked just 23rd among the 30 major league teams with a $101-million payroll at the end of the season. However, president of baseball operations Dick Williams says the Reds have the resources to upgrade their pitching this winter.
Charlie Montoyo, Blue Jays
Montoyo’s name is not well known to casual fans but the 53-year-old paid plenty of dues to reach this point, including managing nearly 2,500 games in the minor leagues and leading The Rays’ Triple-A Durham farm club to seven playoff appearances. He spent the last four seasons on Tampa Bay’s major league coaching staff, including serving as bench coach this year.
Montoyo also played in 1,028 minor league games over 10 seasons as an infielder. His major league career consisted of four games with the Montreal Expos in 1993.
The hiring of Montoyo is heartening to veteran baseball men as the game has skewed toward hiring younger managers and executives in recent seasons. Being bilingual should also help as Toronto plans to rebuild around third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., considered the best prospect in baseball.
Montoyo takes over for John Gibbons, who was fired after compiling a 793-789 record in 11 seasons during two stints on the job and leading the Blue Jays to the postseason in 2015 and 2016.
The Blue Jays had the 13th-highest payroll at $141 million but that figure is likely to drop in 2019 with the organization going to a youth movement.