The Astros have a new manager in Dusty Baker, whom they hired Wednesday, but they’ll have the same bench coach in 2020. Joe Espada will stay on in that role as part of Baker’s staff, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com tweets. Expectations are that Baker will add one coach from outside the organization, though, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
At this late stage of the offseason, it would’ve been difficult for Baker to shake up the Astros’ staff even if he wanted to go that route. Thanks to the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal from 2017, they recently found themselves in the awkward position of having to replace manager A.J. Hinch just weeks before spring training. By now, just about all coaching staffs have been established, so Baker’s not in position to make many changes to the group he inherited from Hinch.
In Espada, Baker’s getting a well-regarded right-hand man who has two years in Houston under his belt and has drawn significant interest from manager-needy teams over the past couple offseasons. The Giants, for instance, looked as if they’d hire Espada as their manager this winter before tabbing Gabe Kapler for the role.
If Baker does end up hiring one more coach to fill a to-be-determined position, Chris Speier’s the probable pick, according to Rosenthal. The 69-year-old ex-infielder has already been on Baker’s staffs with the Cubs, Reds and Nationals.