THE RANGERS GET THEIR MAN

by Dan M | Posted on Monday, November 5th, 2018

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BY:  Dic Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – On Monday, the Texas Rangers will introduce Chris Woodward as their new field manager at a 10:00 AM (Central) press conference.  Woodward will become the 19th manager in club history.  He is 42 years old and has served as the third base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the past three seasons.  He has also coached in the Seattle Mariners organization.  His hiring ends a managerial search that took seven weeks after Jeff Banister was let go with 10 games remaining in the season and involved serious interviews with at least a dozen candidates.

“We are excited to welcome Chris Woodward and his family to the Texas Rangers,” GM Jon Daniels said in a prepared release to the media.  “Chris brings high energy, outstanding leadership and communication skills, a strong knowledge of the game and its evolving strategies, and great integrity – attributes that we feel are vital for out next manager.  He has also been a big part of a very successful stretch in Los Angeles.”  (The Dodgers won the National League West in each of Woodward’s seasons as a coach with the team and went to the World Series the last two years.)

Woodward signed a three year contract with a club option for 2022.  He is from Covina, California, which is also the home town of Ranger great Michael Young.  On Saturday, Young tweeted about his boyhood friend, “Congrats to my Covina sidekick.  We got a good one folks”

Woodward was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and played in the Major Leagues for 12 years with Toronto, Atlanta, Boston, the New York Mets, and Seattle.  Oddly, he was with Seattle in 2009 when Adrian Beltre played third base for the Mariners and Don Wakamatsu was the manager.  (Wakamatsu was the Rangers’ bench coach and interim manager after Banister was axed last summer, and was one of the candidates interviewed for the Rangers’ managerial position.)

Daniels chose a first time manager just as he had in his two previous searches.  However, Ron Washington and Jeff Banister emerged as the leading candidate for the job early in the process during Daniels’ earlier managerial searches.  This time though, the process took much longer.  Daniels emphasized this time that timing was not as important as getting it right.  The organization held meetings in late October to strategize about next year’s roster.  It would have been preferable to have the manager take part in those.  Woodward however was not available for serious interviewing until later in the month after the World Series.

At this point, the coaching staff is in flux.  Hitting Coach Anthony Iapoce left to take the same position with the Cubs.  Assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore was dismissed after the season.  That still leaves the status of Tony Ortiz, Steve Buechele, Doug Brocail, and Don Warthan up in the air.  Assistant GM Jayce Tingler stepped back into the dugout as bench coach when Wakamatsu became the interim manager.  Tingler is expected to have a spot on the coaching staff.  Wakamatsu is expected to remain in the organization in some capacity.

Completing the coaching staff is an important step for Woodard, and at this point, is probably the most demanding problem needing a solution.

As the managerial search wore on, it became apparent to the Rangers that the team was well behind the curve in the area of analytics.  In response to that realization, the team hired Shiraz Rehman from the Cubs, as assistant General Manager.  Rehman has a strong background in analytics.  He has been in front offices for the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Cubs for 14 years.

Also, the Rangers announced this weekend the hiring of Matt Blood as Director of Player Development.  Paul Kruger previously held that title and he has been promoted to Director of Minor League operations.  Blood, like Rehman, has a strong background in analytics.  Blood has spent the last three seasons with USA Baseball as director of the Under 18 National Team Program.  He previously was an area scout in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization.

NOTABLE:

  • This past Friday was the deadline for a number of decisions. Elvis Andrus did not exercise the “opt out” clause in his contract and will remain with Texas at least for the 2019 season after which, he has another opt out option.  Texas also declined to pick up 2019 team options for catcher Robinson Chirinos and pitchers Matt Moore and Martin Perez, making them free agents.  They could still return next season if they work out a 2019 contract.  The Rangers made no qualifying offers to this year’s players that have become free agents.  A number of Rangers were sent through waivers to reduce the size of the 40-man roster.  Infielder Hanser Alberto was claimed on waivers by the Yankees.  Austin Bibens-Dirxx, Clayton Blackburn, Brandon Mann, Carlos Perez, and Ryan Rua were out righted and are expected to reject the assignment to the minor leagues making them free agents.  Matt Bush, Nick Gardewine and Ronald Herrera were activated from the 60-day disabled list and added to the 40-man roster.
  • Texas also traded for left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly. Smyly is scheduled to make $7 million next season on a contract that also has incentive clauses that could propel Smyly’s total compensation into eight figures.  Both the Cubs and Rangers will be sending another player to be named later in the deal.  Clearing Smyly’s salary enabled the Cubs to have room to exercise the 2019 team option for Cole Hamels.  Had the Cubs not exercised the option, the Rangers would have been on the hook for the $6 million buyout of that club option, so effectively, it costs the Rangers just $1 million to give Smyly a shot at reviving his career.  Smyly did not pitch in 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and will be considered as a candidate for the Rangers’ starting rotation next season.
  • Ranger third baseman Adrian Beltre has not yet announced his intentions about retiring or playing in 2019. He is a free agent.

 

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