The Royals dismissed manager Mike Matheny after three seasons that culminated in a disappointing 65-97 season this year. General Manager J.J. Picollo seemed to indicate it would be a deliberative process with an emphasis on looking for someone with good communication skills. The team will consider internal candidates like bench coach Pedro Grifol and third base coach Vance Wilson, but will “cast a wide net” in looking for a new skipper.
If the Royals look outside the organization, who could they turn to? Here is a big list of potential candidates.
Sandy Alomar, Jr., Guardians first base coach
Alomar was an All-Star catcher and the son and brother of big leaguers. Since 2009 he has been on the Cleveland coaching staff, and he took over as manager when Terry Francona stepped aside with health issues in 2020, going 28-18 and leading the team to the Wild Card. He turned down the bench coach job in 2021, electing to coach first base instead so he could work with players more on baserunning. Alomar has interviewed for numerous managerial openings including one with Boston.
Brad Ausmus, Athletics bench coach, former Tigers, Angels manager
Ausmus was a well-respected catcher, and he did win 90 games and a division title in his first season as Tigers manager in 2014. But they regressed after that with losing seasons in two of the next three years, and he won just 72 games in his only season as Angels skipper. Ausmus is a Dartmouth grad who has praised analytics and seems to be well-liked by players.
Brian Bannister, Giants director of pitching
Bannister may have raised some eyebrows when he said on Twitter he was craving Stroud’s, a popular fried chicken joint in Kansas City. He has earned praise for overseeing the Giants’ pitching development that finished second in the league in ERA in 2021 with pitchers like Kevin Gausman, Anthony SeSclafani, and Alex Wood outperforming expectations. Bannister has been unable to work in person with pitchers due to his unvaccinated status, and the Royals may want to avoid that situation after they had ten players unable to make a trip to Toronto for not being vaccinated.
Carlos Beltrán, TV analyst
The former Royals star outfielder was hired as manager of the Mets, but lost that job when his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal surfaced. Beltrán was a very well-respected player that the Astros identified as a leader in the clubhouse. The 45-year-old is open to analytics, calling it “information”, but may be joining the Mets in some capacity according to some sources.
Bruce Bochy, former Padres, Giants manager
Bochy is a future Hall of Fame manager that has won over 2,000 games in 25 seasons with the Padres and Giants, winning four pennants, and three championships, including the 2014 title over Kansas City. At age 67, it doesn’t seem likely he’d want to take on a rebuild project if he gets back into managing.
Ryan Christenson, Padres bench coach
Christenson served as a minor league manager in the Athletics farm system from 2013 to 2017, winning two championships. He joined the big league staff as bench coach in 2018, then moved with manager Bob Melvin to San Diego this year. He interviewed for a managerial position in Pittsburgh and was considered to replace Melvin in Oakland. He filled in as skipper briefly this year when Melvin was ill. Christenson did run into some hot water for appearing to make a Nazi salute in jest after a game.
Stubby Clapp, Cardinals first base coach
Richard “Stubby” Clapp was a popular Cardinals minor leaguer and member of the Team Canada baseball team. He coached and managed in the minors for several seasons with the Astros and Blue Jays before joining the Cardinals and winning a Triple-A title in 2018. He joined the Major League coaching staff the next year, and has been interviewed for managerial jobs with the Pirates, and Rangers, and was considered a favorite for the Cardinals job when Mike Shildt was let go.
Joey Cora, Mets third base coach
The brother of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Joey has been a long-time coach with the White Sox, Mariners, and Pirates, before joining the Mets this year. He has managed in the minors and has filled in as an interim manager before at the big league level. Cora was a hotter managerial candidate a decade ago when he was a finalist for the Brewers job, and was dismissed by the Pirates as a coach last year, so he may not be what teams are looking for these days.
Kai Correa, Giants bench coach
Correa is just 35 but has had a meteoric rise to become bench coach for the Giants. He began as the infield coach for the Guardians’ Arizona summer league team in 2018 and became defensive coordinator in the minors the next year. He’s had a hand in baserunning and defense with the Giants, one of the better teams in translates analytics to on-field results. According to David Lesky, he’s “a name I’ve actually heard mentioned by some people if the Royals want to change their stripes in a big way.”
Joe Espada, Astros bench coach
Espada has been one of the hottest managerial candidates in baseball the last few years, interviewing for openings with the Cubs and Rangers, and could succeed Dusty Baker in Houston if Baker retires. A native of Puerto Rico, Espada spent a year playing for Omaha in 2002 before embarking on a coaching career with the Marlins, Yankees, and Astros.
Sal Fasano, Braves catching coach
Fasano came up through the Royals system as a catcher and had two stints with the team, from 1996-1999 before returning for three games in 2001. He eventually enjoyed an 11-year career with nine teams before becoming a minor league manager in the Blue Jays organization in 2009. After one year in the Angels system he became the catching instructor for the Atlanta Braves in 2018, winning a title last year. The Tigers talked to him about their opening after the 2020 season.
Carlos Febles, Red Sox third base coach
Another former Royals player, Febles spent six seasons as the second baseman in Kansas City from 1998 to 2003. He has served in the Boston Red Sox organization since 2007, doing everything from minor league manager to minor league coach before becoming the third base coach at the big league level in 2017. Febles has used data from the analytics department to work with defenders on positioning and was considered for the manager job in Boston when Alex Cora was suspended.
John Gibbons, Braves scout, former Blue Jays manager
Gibbons served as Royals bench coach in 2009 and 2010 in between two separate stints as Blue Jays manager. Gibbons has managed 11 seasons, all with Toronto, and had winning seasons in six of the nine full seasons with an overall record of 793-789. Gibbons has been known for a hard-nosed attitude and has had several confrontations with players over the years.
Joe Girardi, former Marlins, Yankees, Phillies manager
Girardi has managed 14 seasons with a winning percentage of .545 , six post-season appearances, and a title in 2009 with the Yankees. His record is much more mediocre away from the Bronx with one 78-win season in Miami, and an 82-win season in Philadelphia before he was fired this year after a poor start. He turned down the Reds job before he landed in Philadelphia, although he insists he is willing to manage a rebuilding team.
Andy Green, Cubs bench coach, former Padres manager
Green managed the Padres for four seasons, but won just 42.8 percent of his games, topping out with a 71-win season in 2017. He did not always see eye-to-eye with General Manager A.J. Preller, which was part of his dismissal. Since then he has served as bench coach for the Cubs, assisting manager David Ross.
Demarlo Hale, Guardians bench coach
Hale has been in coaching for two decades, and has been mentioned as a managerial candidate many times, although at age 61, he may not be getting that buzz anymore. He managed in the minors with the Rangers, then joined their coaching staff before becoming third base coach with the Red Sox under Terry Francona in 2006. He bounced around to the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Braves coaching staffs before rejoining Francona in Cleveland in 2021, and taking over the team the final two months when Francona had health issues.
Willie Harris, Cubs third base coach
After a 12-year career, Harris managed one season in the minors with the Giants in 2018 before taking over as baserunning and outfield coordinator for the Reds. The last two years he has served as third base coach for the Cubs and is eager to manage. The 42-year old has brought energy to the clubhouse and is involved with baserunning and outfield defense.
Tommy Hottovy, Cubs pitching coach
Hottovy is a Kansas City native and former Royals pitcher who was hired by the Cubs to be Run Prevention Coordinator in 2014. Since 2019 he has served as Cubs pitching coach, bringing a data-driven approach to pitching development. Making the jump to manager would be a big one, and he may be more suited a pitching coach candidate. Cubs pitching overall has not been great, but they did show improvement from starters Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, and Adrian Sampson.
Raúl Ibañez, MLB executive
Ibañez would be a hot managerial candidate if it was clear he wanted to manage, but he has spurned offers to interview saying it wasn’t the right time. The former Royals outfielder was very well respected as a player and is credited with bringing the leadership the team needed to go on their run in 2014, but he has no coaching or managing experience. Ibañez currently serves as MLB’s senior vice president of on-field operations, overseeing umpires and disciplinary issues.
Rodney Linares, Rays third base coach
Linares had a very brief minor league career before jumping into coaching at a very young age in 1999. After years as a coach in the Astros system he became a minor league manager in 2007, and eventually managed several of the Astros core that would win a championship in 2017. He was twice named Manager of the Year in the minors and has been tabbed to manage the Dominican World Baseball Classic team. Linares jumped to the Rays in 2018, so he has experience working with two of the most advanced analytics-minded teams in baseball.
George Lombard, Dodgers first base coach
Lombard was once a top prospect with the Braves, and now he is a top managerial prospect who brings high energy and can connect with players. The 47-year-old has a reputation as a terrific outfield and baserunning coach, and was instrumental with outfield positioning when he was a coach with the Dodgers. He also worked with the Red Sox and Braves before joining A.J. Hinch in Detroit.
Joe Maddon, former Rays, Cubs, Angels manager
In 19 seasons as a skipper, Maddon has a winning percentage of .532, winning a pennant with the low-budget Rays in 2008 and a title in 2016 with the Cubs. His stint with the Angels was a bit more fractious as detailed in his upcoming book where he dishes on front office interference. Maddon has long been praised for his work in implementing analytics, but has more recently criticized the use of analytics in the game. It is not clear the 68-year old is still interested in managing or would take on a rebuild project.
Tony Mansolino, Orioles third base coach
After a short minor league career, Mansolino managed in the minors for Cleveland beginning in 2016. He won two minor league titles in four years, before being named minor league infield coordinator in 2020, eventually filling in as third base coach when the Indians shuffled their staff to replace manager Terry Francona upon his health issues. Mansolino joined the Orioles this year to work with infielders and serve as third base coach, and the team has become one of the best defensive teams in baseball. The 40-year old is the son of former MLB coach Doug Mansolino.
Clayton McCullough, Dodgers first base coach
The 42-year-old McCullough was a minor league manager in the Blue Jays organization before taking a job as Minor League Field Coordinator with the Dodgers. He later joined their Major League coaching staff in 2021 and interviewed for managerial jobs with the Giants and Mets. His dad Howard is a scout for the Royals, and Jon Morosi reports Clayton will be a candidate for the Royals managerial position.
Joe McEwing, White Sox third base coach
McEwing briefly played for the Royals in 2005 as part of a nine-year career. He began coaching in 2008 and began managing in the minors for the White Sox the next year and was twice named Manager of the Year. He joined Robin Ventura’s staff as third base coach with the White Sox in 2012, and served as bench coach for a few seasons before he moved back to third base coach. McEwing has interviewed for managerial positions with the Cardinals and Mets in the past, but has come under fire this year for his aggressive sends.
Hensley Meulens, Yankees hitting coach
Meulens has been a coach for two decades and was hitting coach for the Giants for their three championship teams. He was a candidate for the Yankees managerial opening in 2017, and the Giants managerial job in 2019. He spent one season as bench coach with the Mets in 2021, but was fired after the season and joined the Yankees as hitting coach. Meulens is still new to analytics and has never served as a manager, but is able to communicate with players. A native of Curaçao, Meulens is fluent in five languages, including Spanish and Japanese.
Carlos Mendoza, Yankees bench coach
Mendoza has been with the Yankees since 2009, serving several seasons as a minor league manager. He joined the big league staff in 2017 as infield coach, and has been bench coach since 2019. Mendoza has filled in as Yankees manager when Aaron Boone has been unavailable, and has interviewed with the Red Sox and Tigers for the managerial positions.
Charlie Montoyo, former Blue Jays manager
Montoyo was a minor league manager for the Rays upon their inception winning several titles, and winning managerial awards three times. He became Rays bench coach in 2016, and in 2019 the Blue Jays named him as manager. He managed four seasons in Toronto, reaching the playoffs in the shortened 2020 season and winning 91 games in 2021, but he was fired 88 games into this year with a 46-42 record. There were some rumors Montoyo lost the clubhouse in Toronto, and that he was better at rebuilding a club than leading a contender.
Kris Negrón, Mariners first base coach
After a six-year MLB career, Negrón worked in the Mariners front office in player development in 2020 before becoming a minor league manager. This year he moved to the MLB coaching staff and even served as interim manager when Scott Servais was out due to COVID. Negrón is still learning pitcher usage and analytics, so he may be a bit green as a managerial candidate right now.
Matt Quatraro, Rays bench coach
Before joining the Rays coaching staff in 2017, Quatraro worked as an assistant hitting coach with Cleveland and he has also worked in minor league development and as a minor league manager with the Rays. The Mets and Athletics interviewed him for their managerial openings last year, and he is expected to be one of the most coveted managerial candidates this off-season.
Luis Rojas, Yankees third base coach, former Mets manager
Rojas has been coaching since 2006, mostly in the Mets organization, and he managed the team for two seasons when the Mets fired Carlos Beltrán due to his involvement in the Astros sign-stealing scandal. He led the Mets to first place for much of the 2021 season, but the team collapsed and ended with just 77 wins. Before he was manager, Rojas was a quality control coach, serving as a bridge between the analytics department and on-field staff. His father is legendary player and manager Felipe Alou.
Skip Schumaker, Cardinals bench coach
Schumaker had an 11-year career, mostly with the Cardinals, before joining the Padres front office in player development and baseball operations. He became Padres first base coach in 2018 and later served as associate manager before joining the Cardinals as bench coach in 2020. His only managing experience is filling in - he managed a post-season game once for the Padres after manager Jayce Tingler was ejected - and he helmed the Cardinals when skipper Oli Marmol was out with illness.
Mike Shildt, Padres third base coach, former Cardinals manager
If the Royals hire Shildt, he would be replacing Mike Matheny for the second time. Shildt was a long-time Cardinals minor league manager before joining the big league coaching staff in 2017. When Mike Matheny was fired in 2018, it was Shildt that took over a near .500 team and led them to a .594 winning percentage over the final 69 games, winning National League Manager of the Year. Shildt managed three full seasons, reaching the post-season each year, but was fired after losing the Wild Card game in 2021.
Jayce Tingler, Twins bench coach, former Padres manager
Tingler is a native of Smithville, Missouri, outside of Kansas City, and played collegiately at Mizzou. He managed the Padres for two seasons, going 37-23 in the shortened 2020 season and reaching the NLDS. He was fired after winning just 79 games last year and became bench coach for the Twins. Tingler had little managerial experience before the Padres job, and there were reports some players were unhappy with his leadership.
Will Venable, Red Sox bench coach
A Princeton alum and nine-year MLB vet, Venable is the son of former big leaguer Max Venable, and spent some of his childhood growing up in Japan and the Dominican Republic. Will served as a special assistant to Theo Epstein with the Cubs before joining their coaching staff in 2018. He was considered for the managerial opening in Boston, but instead joined the Red Sox as a bench coach. He has filled in as manager when Alex Cora has been unavailable.
Ron Washington, Braves third base coach, former Rangers manager
Washington was a product of the Royals Academy and spent ten years in the big leagues as an infielder. He became a coach for the Mets and the “Moneyball” A’s before being tabbed to manage the Texas Rangers in 2006. Washington had a winning season in five of his eight seasons as Rangers skipper, winning two pennants and finishing with a winning percentage of .521. He resigned in 2014 with allegations he had sexually assaulted a reporter and had lapsed into drug use as manager. He was considered for the Braves managerial opening and joined the coaching staff, earning plaudits for his teaching of fundamentals. The 70-year-old Washington is known as a player’s manager, although he has clashed with older stars, and has been willing to rely on young players.
Dusty Wathan, Phillies third base coach
The son of former Royals catcher and manager John Wathan, Dusty spent ten years as a minor league manager before joining the big league coaching staff in 2017. He was considered for the managerial job there before the team hired Joe Girardi. The 49-year-old has served as third base coach where he integrates analytics to be an “aggressive” sender.
Walt Weiss, Braves bench coach, former Rockies manager
Walt Weiss was an All-Star shortstop who managed the Rockies for four seasons with a .437 winning percentage. His teams never won more than 75 games and he ultimately resigned citing a poor relationship with GM Jeff Bridich. He has served as Braves bench coach since then, winning a title last year. Weiss says he is open to analytics, but the Rockies were never considered a top analytics team when he was there. He is said to be good at working with developing young players and leading the clubhouse.
Chris Woodward, former Rangers manager
Woodward managed the Rangers for four seasons with a winning percentage of .424. His best season was his first one when he won 78 games, but was dismissed this year after going 51-63. Their record was atrocious in one-run games, suggesting it wasn’t all his fault, but the team struggled to develop pitchers and was poor on defense and the clubhouse did not seem to gel under his leadership.