While the members of this year's free agent class bide their time, with some lackadaisically swatting away qualifying offers while teams figure out who to target and how much money they'll give them, many MLB front offices, including that of the San Diego Padres, seem to be be preoccupied with scrambling to figure out who will manage their teams. Starting all the way back in the regular season, managers have been dropping and moving and zigzagging left and right. Gabe Kapler: fired. Buck Showalter: pretty much fired. Terry Francona: retired. David Ross: ousted. Bob Melvin: well, we'll get to that.
The biggest news of the week was possible Manager of the Year Craig Counsell's move from Milwaukee to Chicago, leading to the forced departure of the aforementioned David Ross. Carlos Mendoza's ascension to Mets manager competed with that announcement for most buzzworthy story. Dan Szymborski said it best: "We're all basically pretending that MLB managers are like NFL head coaches because actual baseball news is always really lame for the week after the World Series."
Here are the Padres' top managerial candidates
The next big managerial story to break looks like it might surround the San Diego Padres, who lost manager Bob Melvin in late October to division rivals the San Francisco Giants. The Padres search has been seemingly quick, efficient and, compared to all of the management hubbub surrounding teams like the Red Sox and Mets, relatively quiet. The most recent word is that they've already narrowed their candidate pool down to three. Here's who might be leading the Padres next season.
Mike Shildt, Padres player development consultant
Mike Shildt is rumored to be the leading candidate to fill Bob Melvin's shoes. Shildt came to the Padres in 2022 after being unceremoniously ousted as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, who cited "philosophical differences" as the reason for the split. Kicking out a manager who led the team to three consecutive postseasons was a weird move, to say the least, but given the Cardinals' embarrassing demise in 2023 and Shildt's chance to return to a managerial position with the Padres, it looks like he might get the last laugh.
Shildt led the Cardinals to winning seasons in every one of his three full years in St. Louis and was 2019's NL Manager of the Year. With the Padres, he took on a rather vague title which in practicality means he's operated most often as a base coach. The strange pall that was cast over San Diego thanks to a Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin article in the Athletic regarding the Padres front office hasn't gone away, and it's unlikely that the hiring of an internal candidate will change much there. However, given Shildt's history of success, it might at least lead the Friars to a better season than this year's.