After firing suspended manager A.J. Hinch on Monday, the Astros suddenly find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to find a new skipper just weeks before the start of spring training. But there’s no shortage of candidates to replace Hinch, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26.
The Astros have an in-house option in bench coach Joe Espada, but they otherwise appear to be looking outside the organization. Veteran managers Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter, Bruce Bochy and Jeff Banister are on the team’s list of candidates. So are Raul Ibanez and Will Venable, who – like Espada – carry no managerial experience at the MLB level.
Baker, Showalter and Bochy are three of the most accomplished managers of the past couple decades. It’s already known Baker, who last managed in 2017, has interest in the position. Baker and Showalter were serious contenders for the Phillies’ managerial job before they hired Joe Girardi in the fall. Bochy, meanwhile, doesn’t seem likely to take the helm in Houston or anywhere else this year. The soon-to-be 65-year-old told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he’s hitting “pause” after managing in every season from 1995-2019.
Banister, 56, has prior managerial experience in Texas. He led the Rangers for four years, but they parted with him after the 2018 campaign, and he spent last season in Pittsburgh’s front office. Ibanez has been working in the Dodgers’ front office – a role he seems content to keep. As of October, Ibanez wasn’t interested in interviewing for managerial posts, but perhaps the Astros will be able to change his mind. Venable, the Cubs’ third base coach, did meet with Chicago as well as the Giants regarding their managerial openings before those teams went in other directions earlier this offseason.
Along with trying to find a new manager, the Astros and owner Jim Crane will have to land a GM to succeed the ousted Jeff Luhnow. They hope to reel in Hinch’s successor by Feb. 1, per Berman, and Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes that they’re likely to fill that position before tabbing Luhnow’s replacement.