Evaluating each of MLB’s open managerial jobs

October 17th, 2022

One-sixth of MLB’s managerial jobs are vacant, with the Blue Jays, Marlins, Rangers, Royals and White Sox searching for their next skipper.

While each of these teams weighs its options and evaluates candidates, we’re going to evaluate the jobs themselves. What are the benefits? What about the potential challenges that await?

Here’s a breakdown of the five open spots.

Blue Jays
What happened: After missing the postseason in 2021 (despite a 91-71 record) and starting out 46-42 in 2022, the Blue Jays parted ways with manager Charlie Montoyo in July. Interim manager John Schneider led Toronto to a 46-28 record and an AL Wild Card spot. However, the club was swept by the Mariners in the AL Wild Card Series, blowing a seven-run lead in its season-ending Game 2 loss. Schneider is a candidate to be brought back, but the club has refrained from making that announcement.

Benefits: This is a dream landing spot for a manager. The Blue Jays have one of the most talented rosters in the game, having developed young players such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Alek Manoah and Alejandro Kirk and supplemented their core with veteran acquisitions like George Springer, Matt Chapman and Kevin Gausman. This team is already close, it just needs someone to push it to the next level.

Challenges: There’s a sense the Blue Jays have underachieved, so the pressure is going to be on the next manager to win immediately. Toronto was a big player in free agency after 2021 and 2022, but it may scale back its free-agent spending with many of its young players coming due for extensions. Getting more out of the stars the club already has will be critical.

Marlins
What happened: On Sept. 25, the Marlins announced that the team and manager Don Mattingly had mutually decided not to pursue a new contract for 2023. Mattingly managed Miami for seven seasons and went 443-587 (.430), with a postseason appearance during the shortened 2020 campaign.

Benefits: The Marlins’ next manager will inherit a club with an enviable collection of controllable young starting pitchers led by likely NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara, who is signed through 2026 (with a 2027 team option). On the other side of the ball, second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. showed legitimate superstar potential before going down with an injury in June.

Challenges: Miami spent last offseason beefing up its lineup, adding Joey Wendle and Jacob Stallings in trades and signing Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler. The result? Those four combined to hit .230 with 28 homers and a .626 OPS over 1,441 plate appearances and only two MLB teams scored fewer runs than the Marlins. Moreover, holdovers Brian Anderson, Jesús Sánchez and Miguel Rojas all regressed, while 2019 No. 4 overall Draft pick JJ Bleday slashed .167/.277/.309 after his July debut. The next manager shouldn’t expect much in the way of reinforcements from the free-agent market, considering the Marlins’ usual payroll constraints. García and Soler both have multiple years left on their contracts and are due to earn a combined $27 million in 2023.

Rangers
What happened: Texas parted ways with president of baseball operations Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward in September. The Rangers had a losing record in all four seasons under Woodward, who went 211-287 (.424) as manager. The club hasn’t reached the postseason since 2016.

Benefits: The Rangers have a nice foundation in place after they signed middle infielders Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million) and Marcus Semien (7 years, $175 million) last offseason, and got a breakout season out of Nathaniel Lowe and another strong year from Adolis García. Texas also has an excellent farm system, with six Top 100 prospects per MLB Pipeline.

Challenges: Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. While the move to Globe Life Field gave the Rangers a more pitcher-friendly home park, it hasn’t changed the team’s fortunes on the mound. Texas ranked 22nd in team ERA last season, and its best starter (Martín Pérez) and reliever (Matt Moore) from 2022 are both set to become free agents. Jon Gray is solid, but the Rangers have no proven starting pitchers behind him. They spent the second- and third-overall picks in the past two MLB Drafts on pitchers — former Vanderbilt teammates Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker — but Leiter was shaky in his first professional season and Rocker is likely at least a year away from MLB.

Royals
What happened: The Royals dismissed Dayton Moore on Sept. 21 and promoted general manager J.J. Picollo to lead their baseball operations department. After the regular-season finale, Piccolo fired manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred. Kansas City was hoping to take a step forward in 2022, Matheny’s third year at the helm, but the club instead went backward. Matheny was 165-219 (.430) in three seasons as Royals manager. Kansas City hasn’t returned to the playoffs since it won the World Series in 2015.

Benefits: Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino and MJ Melendez all showed promising flashes as rookies, and veteran catcher Salvador Perez remains productive with the bat. Right-hander Brady Singer finished strong, posting a 2.62 ERA over his final 12 starts. This is a true rebuilding situation, so the next manager will have plenty of time to get things moving in the right direction.

Challenges: Despite spending a number of high Draft picks on arms from 2018-21, the organization is in rough shape when it comes to its pitching. Singer looks like a win, but Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic haven’t developed into viable Major League starters, and the team’s first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 — Asa Lacy (4th overall) and Frank Mozzicato (7th overall) — both struggled in the Minors last season. Outfielder Gavin Cross, their first-round pick in 2022, is the Royals’ only current Top 100 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, so it’s going to fall on the next manager to get more out of the youngsters already on the big league roster.

White Sox
What happened: Chicago is searching for a new manager after the retirement of Tony La Russa, who left the team due to health problems on Aug. 30 and didn’t return. The club was the consensus favorite to win the AL Central in 2022, but went 81-81 and finished 11 games behind the first-place Guardians.

Benefits: The core components of a roster that made the playoffs in 2020 and won the AL Central with a 93-69 record the following year are mostly still in place. Dylan Cease, Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez, Tim Anderson and Andrew Vaughn are all in or entering their primes, and Yoán Moncada and Lucas Giolito are candidates to rebound as they both enter their age-28 seasons. Cease has turned into one of baseball’s most dominant starters, recording a 2.20 ERA with 227 strikeouts over 184 innings in 2022, and closer Liam Hendriks remains an elite option in the ninth inning. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has shown a willingness to spend on free agents since the club transitioned from rebuilding to contending after 2019.

Challenges: Even if the White Sox re-sign José Abreu, how much longer can they continue to rely on him as their primary offensive force? He’ll be 36 in January and posted career lows in homers (15) and slugging percentage (.446) over 157 games in 2022. And where does Vaughn play? He can hit, but he’s been a mess on defense. There are durability questions surrounding Robert, Jiménez and Anderson, who combined to play 246 games in 2021 and 261 in 2022. Ditto for Moncada, though a bigger concern is how to get him back to the hitter he was in 2019 (140 OPS+) rather than the one we’ve seen the past three seasons (98 OPS+, including 76 in 2022). The catcher spot is a major question mark, too, after Yasmani Grandal put up a .202/.301/.269 slash over 376 plate appearances this past season. Grandal, who has one year left on his four-year, $73 million deal, will turn 34 in November. Getting Giolito back on track will also be key after the right-hander posted a 4.90 ERA. The 28-year-old received Cy Young votes in each of the previous three seasons before his downturn in 2022.