The Kansas City Royals announced a few coaching decisions on Wednesday. The most important moving Dale Sveum from hitting coach to bench coach. It could set him up to be Ned Yost’s successor.
While upcoming roster upheaval has been at the forefront of most offseason discussions, the Kansas City Royals have also been in the midst of a coaching staff carousel. Almost immediately after the season ended, the team announced pitching coach Dave Eiland and bench coach Don Wakamatsu would not return.
A little over two weeks later, the organization has officially filled one of those roles—by opening up another prominent position. According to Kansas City Star beat writer Rustin Dodd, hitting coach Dale Sveum will replace Wakamatsu as bench coach.
The move leaves the Kansas City Royals with openings at hitting coach and pitching coach. According to Dodd, general manager Dayton Moore said the team would look internally to fill the positions before branching outside. Dodd also reported that Mitch Maier would take over as first-base coach, while Rusty Kuntz would remain, in some capacity, within the organization.
The role change for Sveum doesn’t come as a surprise. He has served as a major league manager twice before—on an interim basis with the Brewers and a full-time basis with the Chicago Cubs. Sveum taking over the bench coach role sets him up to almost certainly replace Ned Yost—or at least top the candidate list—when the Royals manager decides to retire at some point in the coming years.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported Sveum’s new position on Oct. 12:
Other Coaching Moves
As for the other coaching changes, Maier seemed destined to replace Kuntz at first base. The only question seemed to be whether Kuntz would retire. Thankfully, it appears that won’t be the case with Dodd suggesting Kuntz could land the roving instructor role he has long coveted.
According to Dodd, Moore said on Wednesday the team is also looking to add a “quality-control position.” Here’s what the position will apparently entail:
"The role, Moore said, will including organizing schedules and day-to-day plans for individual players. The goal is to free up Yost to focus more on building relationships with players and guiding the clubhouse."
One of the possible candidates, according to Dodd, would be Pedro Grifol. The Kansas City Royals catching coach through this past season, Grifol is not under contract for next season. Having been passed over for the Royals bench coach role, the 47-year-old could easily wind up in that same position with another club.
Even with the coaching moves announced on Wednesday, the Kansas City Royals have a lot of work to do to fill out the staff for 2018.