The annual managerial rumor mill is nothing new to Pedro Grifol. The KC Royals bench coach has been through it before, most recently last winter when various media outlets continually linked his name to vacancies in Detroit and Boston, and two years ago when he interviewed with San Francisco and his own Royals.
Grifol, though, was rumored but never chosen. Kansas City unsurprisingly picked current manager Mike Matheny, the Giants went with Gabe Kapler, and the Tigers and Red Sox grabbed up AJ Hinch and Alex Cora as soon as their Astros cheating scandal suspensions expired. (The Sox rehired Cora, who’d skippered them for two years before the suspensions kicked in).
The job Grifol is by experience and familiarity most suited for is, of course, Kansas City, but it isn’t open and Matheny isn’t going anywhere soon. But the long-time KC coach may have a couple of new positions to explore. The Mets didn’t pick up Luis Rojas’ option, and San Diego let Jayce Tingler go. Other openings may also occur before long.
Why no one has hired Grifol is unclear; major league decision makers reveal why they hire someone, but are loathe to disclose the reasons others weren’t chosen. What is immediately clear, however, is that Grifol’s lack of big league managerial experience surely had little to do with it because Tingler and Rojas had never managed in the majors before the clubs that recently fired them hired them.
(Grifol has some experience leading a professional club: he brought home Class A High Desert, a Seattle affiliate, 26 games above .500 in 2012.
Are the KC Royals in jeopardy of losing Pedro Grifol to another club?
The Mets job may be the best present opportunity for Grifol, who’s done just about everything in the Kansas City dugout—he’s been bench coach, catching coach, and a hitting coach. New York is looking for new leadership after Rojas failed to lead the club to a playoff berth, and while the team’s front office is in some turmoil—the Mets are looking for a president of baseball operations and a general manager—impending change at the top could be the right time for Grifol’s steady personality.
Taking over the Padres is probably another matter. Whether Tingler was actually a scapegoat for the failed roster A.J. Preller assembles and disassembles with regularity is unknown, and another disappointing season could put Preller’s job on the line. The San Diego gig gives Grifol the chance to reunite with former Royal first baseman Eric Hosmer, but renewing acquaintances won’t be enough if the overall fit isn’t good.
The decks may be stacked, though, against Grifol in New York and San Diego. Already being mentioned to succeed Rojas with the Mets are successful veteran managers Buck Showalter, John Farrell, Paul Molitor and Bruce Bochy. And because Hinch and Cora found employment after the Houston cheating mess, will the Mets reconsider Carlos Beltran, who was hired as skipper but departed after being connected to the same scandal?
Bochy, a former long-time Padres manager, and Showalter, Ron Washington, Brad Ausmus, John Gibbons, and Jeff Banister have recently been linked to San Diego’s opening.
So, Grifol faces some stiff competition if the Mets or Padres come calling. If either club is willing to take a chance again on a rookie big league manager, he could be their man. It’s time for him to get the opportunity.
Will this be the winter a big league club hires KC Royals coach Pedro Grifol to manage? Time will tell.