Sixteen teams have changed managers since the end of the 2019 season, some more than once. As front offices get deeper into controlling in-game decisions, job security for managers has become fleeting.
Four teams — the Angels, Blue Jays, Phillies, and Rangers — have already fired their managers this season. Once the season ends more changes are likely.
Here’s a look at what could be an active offseason market:
Angels: A 12-game losing streak cost Joe Maddon his job in June. The Angels were two games under .500 at the time and in second place.
Theywere in fourth place and 19 games under .500 with interim Phil Nevin entering the weekend, and there is little chance he will be back. The next manager will be the organization’s fifth in six years. The Angels are a disaster.
Blue Jays: Charlie Montoyo was 46-42 when he was fired. Toronto has played better under bench coach John Schneider and he has the support of the players.
There’s a good chance Schneider stays on the job if the Jays make the playoffs. At worst, he’ll be part of a search after the season.
Phillies: Dave Dombrowski fired Joe Girardi after only 51 games. Philadelphia has since had the third-best record in baseball behind the Dodgers and Braves, and most of that has been without Bryce Harper.
That would seem like enough to make bench coach Rob Thomson the permanent manager. Dombrowski is not one to go away from what works and Thomson’s less-intense style has clicked with players.
Rangers: Chris Woodward was fired earlier this month and replaced by third base coach Tony Beasley. President of baseball operations Jon Daniels was fired two days later.
General manager Chris Young will be in charge of finding a new manager. Expect a widespread search that seems sure to include Red Sox bench coach Will Venable.
Guardians: Terry Francona will decide when he retires and if Cleveland has a solid playoff run, that could be the right time.
He wants to depart on his own terms and not because of the health issues he’s dealt with in recent seasons.
In a career that seems certain to land him in the Hall of Fame, Francona is having one of his best seasons. The Guardians have the fourth-lowest payroll in the game and did nothing at the trade deadline to improve their roster, but are leading the AL Central.
They swept a two-game series at San Diego on their current road trip, outscoring the Padres, 10-1.
Marlins: Other than 2020, the Marlins have been under .500 every season under Don Mattingly. That’s more a function of their payroll than their manager, but general manager Kim Ng could decide it’s time for a change as the team’s talent level starts to rise.
Reds: A 3-22 start didn’t cost David Bell his job, so maybe nothing will. But the Reds have taken a big step back after being six games over .500 from 2020-21. Bell is Cincinnati royalty, so he’s likely safe for another year.
Red Sox: Alex Cora could be in hot water. Here’s how.
John Henry and Tom Werner have been impulsive with their baseball operations chiefs over the last decade. Ben Cherington lasted a little less than four years. Dombrowski got a little more than four years. Each put together a World Series champion.
Chaim Bloom is coming up on three years in October and has not won the World Series. Public perception has turned sharply against him in recent weeks after a convoluted and unsuccessful approach to the trade deadline.
If the owners decide to ax him after the season, Bloom could argue that unlike Cherington and Dombrowski, he never had a chance to hire his own manager.
The owners made it clear in 2020 they wanted Cora back after his suspension and Bloom went along. Bloom could ask for another chance with his own manager and maybe the owners would go along with that. It’s unlikely. But given the volatility at Fenway, anything is possible.
One way or another, it feels like a decision between Bloom or Cora is coming.
Royals: Kansas City was 38-35 after the All-Star break last season and is now trying to avoid last place. That the Royals were sellers at the trade deadline should buy Mike Matheny more time.
Rockies: Bud Black is one of the better managers in the game but hasn’t had a winning season since 2018. That the Rockies have operated without a coherent plan for years now isn’t his fault.
But that lack of direction could lead anywhere.
White Sox: Tony La Russa will be 78 in October and Chicago is hovering around .500. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf won’t fire him again, but La Russa could retire.
La Russa seemed like an awkward fit when he returned two years ago, but it’s been relatively smooth outside of the injuries that have affected this season.
Yankees: Could Aaron Boone win 100-plus games in the regular season and get fired? If the Yankees lose in the Division Series, maybe Hal Steinbrenner decides to clean house.
The Yankees haven’t won a pennant since 2009, their longest drought since 1982-95. They went through 10 managers during that period and that’s only counting Billy Martin once.
Pirates: General manager Cherington said this past week that Derek Shelton is under contract and will be back for 2023. The Pirates have won only 36 percent of their games in Shelton’s three seasons, but that’s a product of Pittsburgh’s commitment to long-term rebuilding.
Sale might fit best in bullpen
Chris Sale, who is back home in Florida, will spend some time with the Red Sox during a homestand next month. The expectation is he will have a normal offseason in terms of building up arm strength heading into spring training.
His assorted broken bones — right wrist, left pinkie, and a rib at last count — won’t be a problem by the time camp starts.
A bigger issue is that Sale will come into next season having pitched 57⅓ innings (including postseason) over the previous three years. He’ll also be 34.
At this point, the Sox have to consider anything he gives them a bonus. Putting him back in the rotation likely will mean shortened outings and extra days of rest and a constant concern about injury as the season goes on.
Here’s an idea: Make him the closer. That would limit Sale to 55-65 innings and he could go all out when he is on the mound.
If he gets injured, it will be a lot easier to replace a reliever than to find another starter.
Sale was a reliever early in his career with the White Sox and had wipeout stuff in two relief appearances during the 2018 postseason.
Having Sale, Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck, and John Schreiber in the bullpen is appealing. That also would allow for Garrett Whitlock to return to the rotation.
Sale has two years and $55 million left on his deal. Relief may be the best way to get something out of that investment.
A few other observations on the Red Sox:
▪ Because of the pandemic, rookie righthander Brayan Bello has not had a chance to work with Pedro Martinez during spring training.
“We’ve talked a little, but I haven’t been on the field with him,” Bello said via an interpreter.
That’s something the Sox should fix as soon as can be arranged. Bello is a bit taller than Martinez but has a similar frame. He also has an excellent changeup, a pitch Martinez mastered, and a high-90s fastball.
Who better as a tutor for him than Martinez?
▪ Former Sox lefty reliever Robby Scott, 32, announced his retirement on Instagram.
That Scott appeared in 84 major league games from 2016-19 was not something anybody expected. He pitched only 14⅓ innings in two years at Florida State, didn’t get drafted, and went to Yuma, Ariz., to play for an independent team run by player-manager Jose Canseco.
The Red Sox discovered him there and Scott spent six years in the minors before making his debut when he was 27.
By 2017, Scott was the lefty specialist for a first-place team and appeared in 57 games. His career hit heights nobody expected.
▪ Through Friday, Christian Vázquez had started only eight games for the Astros. Houston has stuck with Martin Maldonado as its primary catcher.
That suggests the Astros weren’t too concerned about losing the prospects it sent to the Sox: outfielder Wilyer Abreu and utility player Enmanuel Valdez.
▪ Former Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell won the Republican nomination to run for the Lee County (Fla.) Commission representing District 5. He’ll face Democrat Matt Wood in November.
Greenwell, 59, grew up in North Fort Myers and is now a businessman.
Greenwell being elected to the commission could be a good thing for the Sox if they seek to make improvements to the Fenway South complex in the coming years.
Moreno leaves mess in Anaheim
Arte Moreno purchased the Angels on May 15, 2003, about 17 months after John Henry and Tom Werner closed on the Red Sox. One franchise soared and the other plunged.
Now Moreno has announced he’s selling the team and Angels fans are rejoicing.
The Angels, who won the World Series in 2002, haven’t been back since. This will be their seventh consecutive losing season and the 12th time in 13 years without a playoff berth. Their last postseason victory was in 2009.
Moreno, a noted meddler, ran the Angels into the ground with bad free agent deals for Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Justin Upton, and Anthony Rendon.
The Angels have had high payrolls, to Moreno’s credit. But they have not exceeded luxury-tax limits since 2004. Moreno also has failed to secure a deal to replace aging Angel Stadium.
The Angels rarely have success developing draft picks or players signed internationally. They’ve wasted the prime years of Mike Trout and may need to trade two-way star Shohei Ohtani this winter before seeing him flee as a free agent after next season.
It could take 8-12 months to finalize the sale. New Bedford native Joe Lacob, majority owner of the Golden State Warriors, is a former vendor at Angel Stadium and has expressed interest in owning an MLB team.
Moreno will walk away a winner. He purchased the team for $183.5 million and the Angels are now worth an estimated $2 billion.
Yadier Molina skipped two Cardinals games last weekend because he went back to Puerto Rico to see the basketball team he owns receive a championship trophy. Molina said it was a “business decision.” The catcher was placed on the restricted list (meaning he didn’t get paid) and likely would not have played one of the games anyway. “I wanted to be there for the [basketball] team and then get back here,” Molina said. After 19 years with the Cardinals, Molina gets a lot of latitude from the organization and he used it. The Cardinals also won both games, so no harm, no foul. But in how many markets could you get away with something like that? … Jordan Montgomery is 4-0 with an 0.35 ERA in four starts for the Cardinals since being acquired from the Yankees for injured center fielder Harrison Bader. He had a one-hit shutout at Wrigley Field on Monday, retiring 27 of 28 batters … Noah Syndergaard is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA in four starts for the Phillies since being acquired from the Angels. He’ll be a free agent after the season and has long been a fan of Boston and Fenway Park … The Brewers lost 13 of 21 games after trading Josh Hader to the Padres. President of baseball operations David Stearns said the move was necessary for future success, but the decision landed with a thud in the clubhouse. Meanwhile, Hader lost the closer’s job with the Padres after a series of bad outings … The Dodgers also have a closer issue. Craig Kimbrel’s strikeouts are down and his WHIP is up. His overpowering days are over. Dave Roberts was cagey when asked who would close in the postseason: “My expectation, my hope, is it’s Craig. But it should be a meritocracy,” he said. “It should be about performance. And I do believe that if he’s closing games, we’re better for it” … Pittsburgh shortstop Oneil Cruz, profiled in this space last week, had a 122.4-mile-per-hour single on Wednesday, the highest exit velocity recorded by StatCast since it started tracking batted balls in 2015. The four previous hardest-hit balls were by Giancarlo Stanton. Cruz hit the ball so hard off the 21-foot right field wall at PNC Park that he couldn’t get to second base. “It’s probably good that ball hit a wall, because it might have hurt somebody if it had been up a little higher,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said … The Astros swept the season series against the Twins, 6-0. It was the first time Minnesota was swept in a season series since 2014, when the Angels won all seven games … Oakland’s current 26-man roster has a payroll of $17.3 million. There are 51 individual players making at least $20 million … Fernando Tatis Jr. will have played only 273 of a possible 546 regular-season games in his career once this season is over. His talent is being wasted … The Yankees have had a rough August and some of it goes back to the loss of righthanded reliever Michael King to a fractured elbow on July 22. King had a 2.29 ERA in 34 outings, pitching as many as three innings and as few as two-thirds. King’s versatility solved a lot of problems for Aaron Boone and there’s nobody else in the bullpen who provides that … Christian Bethancourt was 2 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs for the Rays on Tuesday night then pitched a scoreless ninth inning in an 11-1 victory and hit 95.1 m.p.h. with his fastball and got four swings and misses … Through Monday, Pujols had homered off 449 different pitchers. That’s as many home runs as Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero hit in their careers. Pujols’s eighth home run came off John Franco, who turns 62 next month. No. 688 came off Aaron Ashby, who is 24 … Triple A Lehigh Valley made the most of Bryce Harper’s rehab assignment by signing a local physical therapy center to sponsor the games … The Reds released Single A outfielder Fidel Castro on Monday. He hit .211 this season, so it was not a revolutionary move … Happy birthday to Tom Satriano, who is 82. The catcher and occasional infielder played for the Red Sox from 1969-70. Satriano appeared in 106 games and hit .216. Mike Torrez is 76. His 18-year career included five seasons with the Red Sox from 1978-82. He’s famous — infamous? — for a certain home run in ‘78. But that’s ancient history.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.