The past couple of years have been some of the most successful seasons in KC Royals history, highlighted by a World Series trip in 2014 and World Championship in 2015. A lot of it was centered around the man who ran the clubhouse, the player’s manager, Ned Yost.
Let this be a disclaimer that I do not suggest Ned Yost should be let go. Even after a lackluster 7-12 start for the KC Royals, Ned Yost has little blame. The disappointing performances of the lineup and bullpen have led to this abysmal start.
This season could be Yost’s last run with this team, being 61 years old, along with a high number of high-profile free agents possibly leaving. Ned Yost will likely leave the KC Royals on his own terms.
With that, let’s get to possible candidates the KC Royals could consider in the near future.
The possible favorite for any possible vacant in a managerial position for the KC Royals would be current bench coach, Don Wakamatsu.
Starting his career out as a long time minor league journeyman catcher, never being able to establish a consistent career, Wakamatsu turned to managing. Wakamatsu has a decent amount of experience managing, running multiple teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels organization.
After working in the minor leagues for an extended period, Wakamatsu moved into a major league role, serving as bench coach for the Texas Rangers, and later the Oakland Athletics.
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Becoming a hot managerial candidate, Wakamatsu was hired as manager of the Seattle Mariners in 2009. He had success his first year, keeping the Mariners in the playoff hunt, but ultimately falling short with an 85-77 record. It was the 2010 season that caused him to loose his job though, posting a 61-101 record, one of the worst records in franchise history.
After filling other various positions, Ned Yost hired Wakamatsu as the bench coach for the KC Royals. Since then, he has become one of the better second voices in the game. Other teams noticed this to, interviewing him for open managerial positions.
Like I said, Wakamatsu would probably be the front-runner in this scenario. His familiarity with the players would play big.
Another obvious candidate for this future opening would be former manager, Dale Sveum.
Having more of a defined playing career than Wakamatsu, Sveum spent time in the major leagues from 1986-1999, playing shortstop and third base.
After a respectable time as a player, Sveum took up a coaching career in the bigs, occupying multiple positions for the Boston Red Sox over two years. He then spent some time under Ned Yost in Milwaukee, taking roles the team’s bench coach and hitting coach.
After Ned Yost was fired in Milwaukee in the middle of a playoff run, Sveum took the helm as interim manager, losing in the NLDS.
Quickly after this, Sveum was hired as the manager of the rebuilding Chicago Cubs. After compiling a record of 127-197 over two years, he was fired.
Rejoining Yost in Kansas City, Sveum’s original position was third base coach. But, after a mix up of coaching in the middle of 2014, Sveum moved to hitting coach, still running that role currently.
Like Wakamatsu, Sveum will have some connections with a lot of the players. If you like leadership, he could be your guy.
Another minor league player that never reached the majors, Manny Acta spent six years in the Astros organization as an infielder. The Astros then encouraged him to move to coaching, even giving him a role with their Class-A team.
Rising up the minor league ranks as a manager, Acta broke into the big leagues as third base coach for the Montreal Expos, later moving to the New York Mets.
Acta’s managerial experience comes from time with the Washington Nationals from 2007-09 and with the Cleveland Indians from 2010-12.
After severely struggling with managing, Acta moved to TV, spending time as an analyst on ESPN. But recently Acta went back to coaching, as he is currently third base coach for the Seattle Mariners.
Acta is viewed as a prime managerial candidate frequently whenever a job opens up. Possibly, he could be considered by the KC Royals.
If you want leadership with this team when Yost leaves, look right to Raul Ibañez. A long time utility player in his career, Ibañez spent time in the major leagues from 1996-2014. He played every position but second base and shortstop. He has over 2,000 hits and over 300 home runs and made an all-star team. Quite the career.
Ibañez has been a lot of clubhouses in his career. In his career, he had three stints with the Mariners, two with the Royals, and one with the Phillies, Yankees, and Angels.
Ibañez is popular in the clubhouse too. After a lackluster 48-50 start to the 2014 season, Ibañez used his experience and summoned up the club for an infamous meeting. The KC Royals went 40-24 after the meeting, reaching the world series.
After his playing career, Ibañez has been seen as on analyst on Fox and ESPN. He interviewed for the Tampa Bay Rays managerial job in 2014.
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Another person that would easily connect with the players. He would have my vote.