Every Major League Baseball (MLB) offseason features numerous teams having to hire new managers due to retirements, poaching by other clubs, or firings by ownership after disappointing seasons. Acquiring new leadership is often the first order of business before focusing on improving rosters via the trade and free-agency markets.
The San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Guardians, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago Cubs will all enter the 2024 season with new skippers. While the offseason has barely started, the manager carousel has been spinning for the past couple of weeks, and half of these teams have already announced their new manager.
MLB Manager Carousel Craziness
San Francisco Giants
After firing four-year manager Gabe Kaplar at the end of the season, the Giants moved quickly in late October by luring longtime manager Bob Melvin back to the Bay Area to lead the club. Melvin, a former catcher with the Giants, grew up in Northern California, played at the University of California, Berkeley, and then embarked on an MLB playing career from 1985-1994. Since 2003, he has managed four teams, achieving the most success with the small-market Oakland Athletics from 2011 to 2021. From 2012-2014 and 2017-2020, the A’s featured talented rosters that made the playoffs despite ownership’s constant penny-pinching.
Not wanting to go through another rebuild, Melvin left the A’s to manage the Padres in 2022 when he led his new team to the National League Championship Series. However, the star-studded group fell short of the playoffs this year in a massively underwhelming season. Having left San Diego amidst reports of him and Padres General Manager AJ Preller not getting along, Melvin goes from a team featuring superstars like Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Manny Machado to a Giants’ team in desperate need of someone to help lead the team along with ace pitcher Logan Webb.
Melvin’s managerial experience, Bay Area roots, and proven success with the A’s make him a great fit to help restore the Giants to division and playoff contention. Now it is up to the club’s front office to sign or trade for players to help the team succeed in 2024 and beyond.
Craig Counsell, the Brewers’ manager since 2015, became the biggest name on the manager board as a free agent once his contract expired at the end of this season. Having shaped Milwaukee into a perennial division and playoff contender over the past nine years, the former Brewer player and franchise’s leader in games managed (1,332) and wins (707) entertained an offer to stay in Milwaukee as the highest-paid manager. He also interviewed with the Mets, and it seemed like those were his two options. Then, on Nov 6, shocking news broke that the Cubs were hiring him and firing their manager, David Ross.
Counsell will become the highest-paid manager in the sport, earning $40 million over the next five years. By coming out of nowhere to swipe one of the league’s best managers from their division rival, the Cubs shifted the balance of power in their division, if not the entire National League. Whether they can re-sign Cody Bellinger or not, Chicago needs to do something to back up this bold managerial swap.
Grade: A-, only because the Brewers never carried regular-season success into the playoffs
New York Mets
New York Yankees’ bench coach Carlos Mendoza will succeed Buck Showalter as the next manager of the Mets. This is the first significant hire for new Mets’ President of Baseball Operations David Stearns, and it will be Mendoza’s first managerial gig following four years as Aaron Boone’s assistant. Given Mets’ owner Steve Cohen’s uber-wealth and willingness to spend gobs of money to improve his team, it is a little surprising that the club talked to but chose not to hire successful free-agent manager Craig Counsell.
Mendoza is inexperienced and comes from a Yankees team that underperformed last season, leading to constant questions about Boone’s job security. However, Mendoza must have something since he was also on the Padres’ shortlist. The player transactions the Mets make during the offseason will be critical, and then time will tell whether Mendoza can return this team to playoff contention.
The Guardians announced former MLB catcher Stephen Vogt, 39, as their new manager, replacing the retiring Terry Francona. Vogt, who made his name with the Oakland A’s, spent last year as the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen coach, so this will be his first managerial position. The two-time All-Star was known for his clubhouse leadership and fun personality as a player. These qualities that led to people touting him as a future manager will likely make him a good skipper for a Cleveland squad led by José Ramirez, Shane Bieber, and the 2023 rookie trio of starting pitchers. Although it will be nearly impossible to replace the Hall-of-Fame-bound Francona, Vogt can make some noise next year as the American League Central Division is wide open.
Grade: B, due to Vogt’s inexperience and questions about the Guardians’ ownership’s willingness to spend for the offensive upgrades the team needs for 2024.
The Padres’ managerial search remains ongoing, with the team reportedly deciding between bench coach Ryan Flaherty, former St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, and Angels’ assistant Benji Gil. The Brewers have to find someone to replace Counsell, with limited public speculation at this point. Meanwhile, the Angels, who fired Phil Nevin, are still looking for their next manager, and the Astros have yet to decide on a replacement for the retired baseball legend Dusty Baker.
This fast-moving manager carousel seems foreboding for the rest of the MLB offseason as it warms up over the next few winter months.