The Padres have made their bombshell managerial hiring official, announcing on Monday a three-year contract with now-former Athletics skipper Bob Melvin to serve as their new manager. San Diego’s managerial post had been vacant since the firing of previous manager Jayce Tingler just over three weeks ago. Melvin’s option for the 2022 season was exercised by the Athletics back in June, but Oakland reportedly allowed Melvin to interview in San Diego and agreed to let him depart without receiving compensation from the Padres in return.
Melvin’s departure comes as a shocking development. There had been no prior indication that the Padres had their sights set on Melvin or that their pursuit of him had begun — let alone reached the finish line. Rather, the Padres had been tied to Atlanta third base coach Ron Washington, who wouldn’t have been able to interview until after the conclusion of the World Series. Instead, president of baseball operations A.J. Preller has already pounced upon his preferred candidate.
“Bob is one of the top managers in the game and brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and a proven track record to win at the Major League level,” Preller said in a statement within today’s press release. “Throughout the process, Bob showed our group a true love of baseball and a natural presence to lead. It was immediately evident how he’s been able to bring out the best in his players throughout his managerial career. We believe that Bob is the right man to take our talented group and help them deliver a championship to the city of San Diego.”
Coming into 2021, after an extremely active offseason, the expectations were that the club would be in the running for the NL West division crown. Things seemed to be following that plan for a few months, as their winning percentage was just under .600 at the end of June. However, they floundered down the stretch amid reports that Tingler had lost the respect of the players in his clubhouse, and the team eventually finished the season below .500 and well out of playoff contention. After Tingler’s firing, various reports linked the club to managers with more experience in the skipper’s chair. The Padres’ last two two managerial hires, Andy Green and Jayce Tingler, were both first-time managers and both in their late 30s at the time of their hiring.
Melvin, who turned 60 years old last week, certainly fits the “more experienced” description. He has close to 20 years of managing on his resume at this point — his first coming with the Mariners back in 2003. Since then, he has been employed as a bench boss for at least part of every season except for 2010. After two seasons with Seattle, he was with the Diamondbacks from 2005 to 2009, and worked as a scout for the Mets in 2010.
In June of 2011, the Athletics fired manager Bob Geren and replaced him with Melvin. He was initially hired as an interim manager but stuck around for over a decade. In his time with Oakland, the club went 853-764, a winning percentage of .528. They made the playoffs six times out of those 11 seasons, including three division titles, most recently in 2020.
As to why the Athletics would allow such a successful manager to leave, Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggests a financial motive (Twitter links). He reports that Melvin was making “about 4MM a year” and that the club intends to slash payroll for 2022. Melvin’s new contract in San Diego guarantees him a total of $12MM, so he’ll now match or exceed his Oakland salary and do so over a longer term.
MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently looked into the fact that the Athletics have a tremendous arbitration class this winter that will push the organization into uncomfortable financial territory. The fact that the A’s are seemingly willing to let a fruitful decade-long partnership with their manager come to end for a few million in cash savings certainly casts an even darker cloud over that situation.
Melvin and the Padres will now turn their focus to getting that club to live up to their full potential in 2022 and trying to chase down the Dodgers and Giants, while the Athletics will now have to add a managerial search to their to-do list in an offseason that seems to have the potential for lots of turnover.
MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell broke the news that the Padres had agreed to a three-year deal with Melvin (Twitter links). ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez reported that the A’s had allowed Melvin to interview and accept the Padres’ job despite being under contract for the 2022 season (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images