KC Royals: 6 potential Mike Matheny replacements

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KC Royals, Tony Pena Jr.
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This former KC Royals player and son of an ex-manager might be a candidate.

A season removed from serving as a coach on Mike Matheny’s major league staff, Tony Peña Jr. has one of the most important player development jobs in the Kansas City organization. A former Royals player himself, Peña now manages the Columbia Fireflies, the club’s entry in the Low-A Carolina League South Division, where prospects first experience life above Rookie ball.

It’s not Peña’s first managerial duty: he skippered KC rookie teams in 2018 and 2019. And he was slated to manage former Kansas City A-ball affiliate Burlington in 2020 before cancellation of the minor league season derailed the assignment; the Royals, however, added him to then-manager Ned Yost’s staff for the final month of the big league campaign and he was one of Matheny’s coaches last year.

Peña wouldn’t be the first Peña to lead the Royals—his father, former big league catcher and longtime coach Tony Peña Sr.—won the American League Manager of the Year award after leading them to an 83-79 record in 2003, just a season after taking over the reins early in 2002 and finishing 49-77.

Unfortunately, the team nosedived and lost a then-franchise record 104 games in 2004 and Peña resigned after KC started 2005 with a dismal 8-25 mark.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that Kansas City won’t consider his son as a major league skipper. His managing stints and service on the major league staff suggest he’s probably on the club’s managerial radar.