Red Sox bench coach/outfield instructor Will Venable is one of the candidates to be the Royals’ new manager, according to The New York Post’s Jon Heyman. Venable is a new addition to a field known to include several internal candidates (K.C. bench coach Pedro Grifol, third base coach Vance Wilson and Triple-A manager Scott Thorman) as well as Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough.
It is possible other names are still under consideration, though it does seem like the Royals might be nearing the final stages of their search, as Heyman writes that “Quatraro has been seen as the favorite” and past reports have suggested McCullough as a finalist. Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan also interviewed with the Royals but is now out of the running after signing a contract extension to remain in Philadelphia.
Venable (who celebrates his 40th birthday today) is known by most fans for his nine-year playing career, which saw him suit up for eight seasons with the Padres and brief stints with the Rangers and Dodgers from 2008-16. Moving almost directly into a new role as a coach, Venable was on the Cubs’ staff from 2018-20 as a first base and third base coach, and then took his current role as Alex Cora’s right-hand man prior to the 2021 season.
With more teams frequently looking to hire younger managers only recently removed from their playing days, Venable has been a popular interview candidate for the last few cycles’ worth of managerial searches. The Athletics, Giants, Astros, and Tigers all spoke with Venable in regards to recent openings in the dugout, and the Red Sox themselves interviewed Venable for the manager’s job before re-hiring Cora, though the Sox were obviously still impressed enough to bring Venable on board as bench coach.
Of the six known candidates in the Royals’ search, none have previously worked as a Major League manager on anything more than a fill-in basis. (For instance, Venable served as Boston’s manager for a few games earlier this season when Cora was sidelined with COVID-19.) Barring any other experienced skippers surfacing in the search, it would appear as though new Kansas City general manager J.J. Picollo is favoring a first-time manager as the replacement for Mike Matheny.