MLB’s top manager candidates: Who could fill the next job opening?

Buck Showalter announced Sunday that he will not return as manager of the New York Mets in 2024. “I wish things had gone better this season because Mets fans deserve it.” Showalter said. “It wasn’t the result I wanted, but I still love the city and the players.”

The San Francisco Giants began this offseason’s managerial hiring cycle on Friday by firing Gabe Kapler after four years. The Cleveland Guardians will have a head start with Terry Francona’s pending retirement. The Milwaukee Brewers could be in the market for a new captain depending on their ability to retain Craig Council.

As many openings are possible this winter, Athletic The industry has compiled a list of people seen as obvious candidates to become big league managers (or, in some cases, managers again).

Gabe Kapler, former manager, San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies

Kapler was fired from his first two managerial stops and may not get a third. There have been fair criticisms of his teams fading over time. But most recently he was the National League manager for 2021, overseeing a 107-win team in San Francisco. His production and tactical acumen are legendary — even if those qualities led to the robot brand of baseball that Giants fans turned on this summer. Given a quality roster that doesn’t need platoons and openers, Coupler can still thrive. – Andy McCullough

Los Angeles Dodgers, first-base coach Clayton McCullough

McCullough interviewed with the New York Mets for the job that eventually went to Showalter and was runner-up to Matt Cuatraro last season for the Royals job. He spent several years as a manager in Toronto’s minor-league organization before serving as minor-league field coordinator with the Dodgers. He received praise for his work with young players. – I am

Chris Taylor and Clayton McCullough celebrate. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today)

George Lombard, bench coach, Detroit Tigers

Lombard has significant experience in the minors and majors. He was Mookie Betts’ first professional manager in 2011 with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. He wore various hats in player development with Boston and Atlanta before joining Dave Roberts’ coaching staff with the Dodgers in 2016. After the team won the World Series in 2020, Lombard left to work with AJ Hinch in Detroit. His son, George Jr., was a first-round pick for the Yankees last summer. – I am

Dan Mattingly, bench coach, Toronto Blue Jays

After a decade managing in Los Angeles and Miami, Mattingly left the Marlins last season for a gig with Toronto. Mattingly never had a losing record in five seasons managing the Dodgers, where he was well-respected in his clubhouse. Players who understand well the challenges of succeeding at the big league level, but never put his own best playing career ahead of his team. – I am

Mark DeRosa, MLB Network analyst

DeRosa, 48, managed Team USA at the World Baseball Classic earlier this year, his first professional coaching experience. The University of Pennsylvania product pitched to eight different teams over a 16-year big league career. He spent his first seven seasons with the Braves. He has served as an analyst for MLB Network since retiring in 2013. – Zach Meisel

Benji Gill, infield coach, Los Angeles Angels

Gil firmly established himself as an intriguing managerial candidate when he led Mexico to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic this spring and bounced back from a major upset to reach the finals. Gill won four championships as a manager in the Mexican League. It’s not a typical proving ground for MLB managers, but that’s a good thing. Gill has some pedigree as a former player, as well, playing a small but important role in the Angels’ lone World Series title in 2002. Gill clearly has the managerial chops, but do they translate at the major league level? – Sam Bloom

Benji Gill managed Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. (Chris Goduto/Getty Images)

Don Kelly, bench coach, Pittsburgh Pirates

A nine-year MLB veteran, he was a clubhouse leader during his playing days and became a scout for the Tigers following his on-field career. In 2019, Kelly served as the Astros’ first base coach under AJ Hinch. Since 2020, he has been the Pirates bench coach under Derek Shelton – Cody Stavenhagen

Stephen Vogt, bullpen and quality control coach, Seattle Mariners

The former big league catcher jumped right into coaching this offseason and expressed his desire to manage from his playing days. A member of the major league staff predicted that Vogt would become a manager “at some point.” – CS

Rodney Linares, bench coach, Tampa Bay Rays

The 46-year-old coached in the Astros organization for two decades, and in 12 seasons as a minor-league manager he oversaw the development of players such as Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and George Springer. In addition to managing the Dominican team in the most recent World Baseball Classic, Linares also managed in the Arizona Fall League and the Dominican Winter League. He became the Rays’ third base coach in 2018 and was promoted to bench coach before this season. – CS

Will Venable, Associate Manager, Texas Rangers

The son of a major league and longtime minor league coach, Venable, 40, played nine seasons for the Padres, Rangers and Dodgers. In 2017, he joined the Cubs front office as a special assistant to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. He then transitioned to the field, serving three years as the base coach and then two years as the Red Sox bench coach. In 2023, he became Bruce Bochy’s lieutenant. He was an Ivy Leaguer, playing at Princeton with Guardians GM Mike Chernoff. The A’s, Cubs, Giants, Astros, Red Sox and Tigers have all talked to him about their managerial openings in recent years. – ZM

Bob Melvin, manager, San Diego Padres

Bob Melvin currently has a job, why is he on the candidate list? The Padres are entering a period where they must assess the disaster of a season, and Melvin’s relationship with Padres GM AJ Preller has become strained. If the pair were to fall out, the highly-regarded Melvin could quickly become a desirable executive candidate. Adding intrigue here: Melvin and the Giants’ Farhan Zaidi worked together in Oakland, so a Bay Area reunion in San Francisco would make sense. – Mark Carrick

Mark Hallberg, third base coach, San Francisco Giants

Hallberg served as the Giants’ third base coach the past two seasons, taking over after the retirement of Ron Woods. Few candidates have backgrounds as diverse as Hallberg, the son of international school administrators who grew up in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan before ending up at Florida State, where he became teammates and close friends with a certain catcher named Buster Posey. After playing in the minors, Hallberg’s coaching rise was rapid. In 2019, he was managing the Giants affiliate in Salem-Keizer. A year later, he joined the big league staff where he stayed. – M.C

(Top photo by Buck Showalter: Elsa/Getty Images)

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