DEC. 4: The Marlins have now officially named Bonds their new hitting coach, with Menechino assuming the role of assistant hitting coach.
DEC. 1, 12:07pm: Bonds “tentatively plans” to take the job, Nightengale tweets, though negotiations are not yet wrapped up.
11:28am: The Marlins have been pursuing legendary-but-controversial slugger Barry Bonds to serve in a coaching capacity with the club, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. Miami has now extended him a formal offer and is awaiting a decision, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.
If Bonds joins the organization, he’d serve as a co-hitting coach with incumbent Frank Menechino, according to Heyman. That’s somewhat unusual in that neither would, apparently, be the assistant to the other, but presumably represents the team’s attempt to strike a balance in doling out job titles and responsibilities.
The two sides are said to be close to reaching an arrangement after holding extensive talks in recent weeks, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter links). At this point, it seems, the only question is whether Bonds is willing to move to Miami and take on the demands of the position.
Obviously, the possibility of a hitting coach hiring doesn’t normally draw many headlines. But in this case, the name under consideration is of particular importance. Bonds, of course, hit more home runs than any player in MLB history and came closer than anyone to eclipsing Babe Ruth in total wins above replacement. Indeed, he might have done just that had he continued his career past a 2007 campaign in which he put up a .480 OBP. But Bonds had become a toxic asset by that point — he was embroiled in PED controversy, though he ultimately was unsuccessful in proving a collusion case — and has been frozen out of the Hall of Fame thus far despite his historic excellence.
The Fish, then, would be making a highly significant move in bringing Bonds back into the baseball fold. He has already increased his public exposure and engagement with the sport recently — including serving as a spring instructor with the Giants — and the rehabilitation efforts of Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire have probably also cleared a path. But it would still make for a major point of transition if Bonds were to put on a uniform again.
From a team-specific perspective, Bonds is obviously as knowledgeable about the craft of hitting as anyone and is said to have genuine interest in coaching. Adding his outsized personality carries some risk, of course, to say nothing of the intense media coverage his presence will generate (at least initially). But Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is said to have developed a “friendship” with the now-51-year-old, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, and obviously appreciates the broader dimensions of the move. Notably, the club has already installed former Yankees legend Don Mattingly as its skipper and brought back Ichiro Suzuki as he pursues the 3,000 hit milestone.