Why these four MLB managers are on the hottest seats entering 2020 season

With Major League Baseball’s regular season approaching, it’s that time of the year to ask (and answer) questions about the upcoming campaign. Today, we will forecast one of the places in professional sports people don’t want to be: the hot seat. Managers and coaches are hired to be fired, per the saying, but that doesn’t mean anyone should delight in others’ misfortune.

Still, the reality of baseball is that a few managers will not make it through the entire season, or will at least be placed on notice. Below, we’ve identified four skippers who we think have the most riding on the 2020 season. We’re not saying the individuals included here will be fired, but we are saying this year is more pivotal to them than not as it pertains to their employment.

1. Rick Renteria, Chicago White Sox

Renteria, who is entering his fifth season as a big-league manager, has never won more than 73 games in a year. It’s not his fault, as he’s only ever been in charge of rebuilding teams. This season will be the exception after the White Sox overhauled their roster during the winter, adding Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, Dallas Keuchel, and others in pursuit of their first postseason berth since 2008. 

An increased talent level means heightened expectations, and Renteria is likely to face more scrutiny this season than he has in the past. The White Sox believed in him enough to give him a multi-year extension in 2018, but a disappointing season could cause them a crisis of faith.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds

Will the Reds tell David Bell to leave if Cincinnati fails to improve in 2020?

2. David Bell, Cincinnati Reds

As with Renteria, it doesn’t seem fair to include Bell on this list. He’s entering just his second year at the helm, and the Reds’ run differential suggested they outplayed their record in 2019.

Even so, the Reds have poured a lot of resources into winning now over the past year-plus. Be it trading off multiple top prospects, or this winter spending enough to sign Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, and Shogo Akiyama. The Reds’ Opening Day payroll projects to be a franchise record $141 million, or $15 million higher than it was last March.

Owners tend to get antsy when their investment isn’t rewarded with on-field results. As such, it’s in Bell’s best interest to deliver Cincinnati’s first winning season since 2013.

3. Ron Gardenhire, Detroit Tigers

It is by no means Gardenhire’s fault that the Tigers are looking at a fourth consecutive 95-plus-loss season. He seems far more likely to take the fall than general manager Al Avila, however. To wit, Avila signed an extension last July, while Gardenhire’s contract is up at season’s end. In storytelling, they would call that heavy-handed foreshadowing. 

4. Bud Black, Colorado Rockies

Black would seem above the hot seat after he signed an extension through the 2022 season last February. Alas, the Rockies were so poor in 2019 that it’s fair to wonder if Colorado would consider making a change with another abysmal campaign. We think it’ll be rendered a moot point, as we expect the Rockies to rebound — at least to some extent.

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