The Astros are promoting Omar López to bench coach, as first reported by Chandler Rome of the Athletic (X link). He steps into the position vacated by Joe Espada’s promotion to manager.
López, 46, has spent nearly a quarter century in the Houston organization. The Venezuela native began as a scout in his early 20s following a very brief minor league playing career. By 2009, he’d been tabbed as manager of one of the organization’s rookie ball affiliates. López managed at various levels of the farm system for the next 11 seasons, topping out at Double-A Corpus Christi in 2019.
Going into the 2020 season, Houston bumped López to the MLB staff as first base coach. Initially tabbed under A.J. Hinch, he remained in that role following Hinch’s dismissal and the subsequent hiring of Dusty Baker. López has spent the past four seasons working on Baker’s staff (and alongside Espada) in that capacity. When Baker announced his retirement shortly after the ALCS, López was floated as a speculative candidate to replace him.
Espada, who had held the #2 job on the Houston staff for years and interviewed for various managerial positions with other clubs, always seemed the likelier candidate for the top job. Indeed, general manager Dana Brown indicated that Espada would be the only internal option to receive an interview and officially hired him a few days thereafter. That opened the bench coach role for López to assume the highest position of his career. While he has no MLB managerial experience, he led the Venezuelan national team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic in addition to his lengthy run in the minors.
Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports (on X) that Dave Clark will step into the vacated first base coach role. Clark, who briefly served as an interim manager for Houston back in 2009, had most recently been managing the Idaho Falls team in the independent Pioneer League. Meanwhile, McTaggart adds that minor league field coordinator Jason Bell will join the MLB staff as a quality assurance coach.