Thursday, December 7, 2023

Six possible Padres managerial candidates as Bob Melvin leaves for Giants following disappointing 2023 season

The San Francisco Giants are expected to hire San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin as their new skipper, according to reports. Melvin, then, will be moving on to his third team in four years, having previously left the Oakland Athletics for San Diego.

Melvin garnered a reputation for being one of the game’s best skippers during a fruitful 11-year stint in Oakland. Murphy’s law applied to this season. The Padres underperformed relative to high expectations, in large part because of a dreadful record in one-run and extra-inning contests. The clubhouse dynamic became a hot-button topic. Oh, and recent reports indicated Melvin had developed an “unfixable” relationship with general manager A.J. Preller.

Melvin, 61, will attempt to guide the Giants to the playoffs more often than Gabe Kapler, who was dismissed late in the season after failing to reach October for the third time in four tries. The Padres, meanwhile, will be on the prowl for their fifth full-time manager under Preller’s leadership. Preller has sacked Bud Black, Andy Green, and Jayce Tingler, and now parted with Melvin since taking over in fall 2014.

Just who might be on the Padres’ shortlist?  Here are six potential candidates for the gig. Do note that this is always more of an art than a science, and that these individuals are presented in no particular order.

1. Ryan Flaherty, Padres bench coach

You don’t often see teams replace their managers with their bench coaches unless it’s on an interim basis to get through the rest of the season. It does happen on occasion, however, including most recently with Oli Marmol and the Cardinals. Flaherty, an eight-year veteran, has been part of San Diego’s staff since 2020, having first joined as a quality control coach under Tingler. He’s since received a fancier title, and last winter he was denied the opportunity to interview with the Mets. That would seem to suggest the Padres view him as a valuable part of their program — perhaps to the extent that they would be willing to entrust the 37-year-old with the managerial post.

2. Mike Shildt, Padres senior advisor

Whereas Flaherty would be another rookie skipper, Shildt managed the Cardinals for parts of four seasons. He was quite successful, too, amassing a 55.9% regular season winning percentage. The Cardinals still fired him in fall 2021 after consecutive losses in the NL Wild Card Series. Shildt has since been part of the Padres organization in a consultant role, suggesting that he should be a familiar quantity to Preller and company.

3. A.J. Ellis, Padres special assistant to the general manager

Ellis is similar to Flaherty in the sense that he’s also a somewhat recent retiree (he last copped a squat in 2018) who has spent his post-playing career with the Padres. Unlike Flaherty, Ellis’ contributions have been reserved for the front office, not the field staff. It’s not out of the question for someone to make the leap from one to another. A.J. Hinch, for example, had never coached or managed when he was appointed as the Diamondbacks‘ manager back in 2009.

4. Luis Rojas, Yankees third base coach

Rojas interviewed with the Padres the last time they needed a skipper. You might recall that he stepped in and guided the Mets for two seasons earlier in the Pandemic Era, after Carlos Beltrán was removed as part of the Astros‘ sign-stealing scandal fallout. In Queens, Rojas amassed a 46.4% winning percentage. (Coincidentally, Rojas is the half-brother of longtime big-league outfielder Moises Alou, who worked for the Padres in the past and was even rumored to be a candidate to take over the managerial position when Green was fired.)

5. Johnny Washington, Cubs assistant hitting coach

While Washington has been part of the Cubs coaching staff the last two seasons, he should be well known by the Padres. Earlier in his career, he spent a number of seasons coaching at both the minor- and major-league level. The last part there includes stints as the Padres’ hitting and first-base coach. Washington has interviewed for at least one other managerial position in the past, taking a call from the Angels after they fired Brad Ausmus in 2019.

6. Clayton McCullough, Dodgers first base coach

McCullough has been part of the Dodgers’ organization for nearly a decade. He’s spent the last three seasons stationed at first base, but it’s clear that other teams see him as a potential fixture on the top dugout step. The Royals, Mets, and Giants have each interviewed him for managerial openings in recent winters. It seems like only a matter of time before someone gives him a shot.

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