There are quite a few notable managers and top front office executives (general managers or heads of baseball operations who have different titles) entering their last guaranteed year under contract in 2018, creating even more pressure than usual to have a good season. Thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for providing many of these contract details.
As always with this list, it should be noted that contract length is far from an absolute measure of job security. Teams with seemingly stable management could be one disastrous season away from a shakeup in the dugout or front office, while some of the managers or executives listed here could have “stay as long as you want” handshake deals in place. Some teams also don’t publicize contract details for front office executives, so some of the names on the list could have already quietly signed extensions, or there could be other execs entering their last year under contract.
Here are some of the names who could be facing a hotter seat than usual in 2018 (alphabetical order by organization) …
Angels: Long-time manager Mike Scioscia is in an interesting situation as he wraps up an unusually massive contract — ten years at a guaranteed $50MM. After a few disappointing campaigns, there’s definitely pressure to win. And expectations are on the rise as GM Billy Eppler continues to add significant pieces in what has been a highly productive offseason. Just what the future holds really isn’t clear from the outside, but it’ll be fascinating to see how things shake out for Scioscia, who is easily the longest-tenured skipper in the game.
Braves: The Atlanta organization was hit by surprise front office upheaval, perhaps nudging the team to seek stability in the dugout. Thus it was that manager Brian Snitker had his option exercised despite a disappointing second half of the 2017 season. It’s hard to know whether Snitker will have a legitimate shot at maintaining his job into the future, though perhaps he can force the hand of new GM Alex Anthopoulos with a strong performance.
Dodgers: Dave Roberts is almost certainly not going anywhere after managing the Dodgers to the World Series in 2017. But this is the final guaranteed season of his rookie managerial deal, with the club also possessing a 2019 option. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if longer-term negotiations take place at some point over the current offseason.
Indians: Similarly, Cleveland skipper Terry Francona seems to be rather embedded in his organization’s fabric. He is not promised anything past 2018, though the team does possess consecutive options over the ensuing two campaigns. Barring a surprising turn of events, it seems likely Francona will continue running the clubhouse through the end of the potential term contemplated in his deal.
Nationals: It’s hard to know what Nats ownership will do, but president of baseball operations/GM Mike Rizzo has indicated he’s happy either to fulfill his duties as a lame duck or to discuss a new deal if approached. Despite wild success in the regular season — the second-most wins in the majors since 2012, with four NL East titles — the club has fizzled out repeatedly in the postseason. That led to the surprising departure of manager Dusty Baker after the ’17 campaign. All that said, it’d be quite a surprise for the organization to let go of Rizzo, who has steadily produced results throughout his tenure.
Orioles: Things are even more interesting on the north side of the beltway, as O’s executive VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter are each entering contract years. There are persistent rumors of discord between those two figures, who’ll also be looking to navigate some tricky roster limitations after a disappointing 2017 season in which the club posted a losing record for the first time since 2011.
Rangers: Indications are that president of baseball ops/GM Jon Daniels is going to lock up a new deal with the organization, though at this point — so far as is known — he’s only under contract through the coming campaign. Meanwhile, manager Jeff Banister may be on shakier ground if he can’t help engineer a turnaround. He’s in a contract year, too, though the club can also simply decide at some point to pick up his 2019 option.
Reds: One of the hottest managerial seats in the game is likely the one in Cincinnati. Current leader Bryan Price was given another chance to work with a still-transitioning roster in 2018, though the club did not pursue any additional future security. Just what the expectations are — further development? real movement in the standings? — isn’t immediately clear, but Price will need to state his case to retain his job.
Royals: Having led the K.C. club to a stunning World Series win, skipper Ned Yost likely isn’t in any risk. But he is entering the final year of the two-year extension he signed after the 2015 season. The Royals are readying for a new phase after losing several core players to free agency, creating some uncertainty. Yost says he doesn’t expect still to be at the helm when the club is again cresting, but has indicated he hopes “to get a firm footing and a firm foundation on the ground” to hand off to a successor. Just how long he and the team will want to continue the current arrangement isn’t known.