Now that the Mets have hired Buck Showalter, the Athletics are the last team still looking for a new manager, but Oakland’s search may also be nearing an end. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the team is “closing in on a managerial hire,” and the Athletics’ “focus appears to be on Mark Kotsay” as Bob Melvin’s successor.
Kotsay has been a member of Oakland’s staff for the last six seasons, working as the third base coach in 2021 after previously working as a quality control coach and bench coach. He is one of three internal candidates known to be under consideration for the managerial vacancy, along with hitting coach Darren Bush and bullpen coach Marcus Jensen. From outside the organization, the A’s had interest in Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, and Red Sox bench coach Will Venable (Espada and Quatraro were also finalists for the Mets job).
When Melvin left the A’s to become the Padres’ new manager, speculation immediately arose that Kotsay was a contender and perhaps even a favorite to become the Athletics’ new skipper. Kotsay has previously been a managerial candidate for the Tigers, Giants, Pirates, Red Sox, and Astros over the last two-plus years, and he even received some consideration as the Padres’ interim manager back in 2015, after Bud Black was fired and when Kotsay was working as San Diego’s hitting coach.
Kotsay is probably best remembered by fans for his 17 seasons as a player with seven different teams from 1997-2013, including a stint with the A’s for four of those seasons. While not quite as recently retired as some of the other players-turned-managers hired in recent years, Kotsay is still only 46 years old, and not all that far removed from his playing days. He also brings some front office experience, as Kotsay worked as a special assistant with the Padres in 2014.
If the A’s did indeed hire Kotsay, it would provide some continuity for a roster that might look quite different come Opening Day. The A’s are known to be open to trading several of their top players due to escalating arbitration costs, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean Oakland will embark on a fire sale or even abandon the hope of contending in 2022, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Billy Beane and company swing several deals once the lockout is over. Depending on when exactly the lockout ends, this could lead to something of a frenzied situation in the Athletics’ Spring Training camp, which would only add to the challenge for a first-time skipper. Neither Kotsay or any of the other five known candidates have ever managed at the MLB level.