KC Royals: Matt Quatraro is Kansas City’s new skipper

(Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals, who just over three weeks ago parted ways with manager Mike Matheny after three seasons, have a new skipper.

The club announced the hiring of Matt Quatraro (Twitter link), Tampa Bay’s bench coach since 2019, late Sunday afternoon.

News that the Royals had interviewed Quatraro spread from multiple outlets throughout baseball several days ago but, consistent with the quiet approach the club took to its search for Matheny’s replacement, little of substance had been heard since.

What can Quatraro, 48, bring to a franchise struggling to regain some semblance of relevance?

New KC Royals manager Matt Quatraro is an experienced baseball professional.

Hiring Quatraro, who played seven years of minor league ball but never found his way to the big leagues, won’t be without some controversy—other than his familiarity with Kansas City principal owner John Sherman, who had an ownership stake in the Cleveland franchise when Quatraro coached there, he had no previous strong ties to the Royals, and the club passed over reported internal candidates Pedro Grifol, Vance Wilson and Scott Thorman , and others from outside the organization, to land him.

Being an outsider with presumably new and fresh ideas and philosophies, though, should benefit the Royals, who’ve floundered in various degrees of mediocrity since losing 104 games just three seasons after winning their 2015 World Series title. A new approach, which Quatraro is certain to bring, won’t hurt. And his hiring represents a further move away from the nearly 17-season Dayton Moore era, which brought two American League pennants and that World Series trophy to Kansas City, but only three winning seasons.

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And despite never holding down a major league manager’s job before, Quatraro comes well-credentialed. Beginning in 2004, just two years after he played his last minor league game, Quatraro took up coaching and managing in the Tampa Bay system; he served in a variety of coaching roles and managed for four seasons.

He worked as an assistant hitting coach on manager Terry Francona’s Cleveland staff from 2014-2017. He returned to Tampa Bay as third base coach in 2018 before becoming skipper Kevin Cash’s righthand man as bench coach in 2019.

Quatraro’s is a name frequently mentioned in recent offseasons, and this one, as an excellent managerial candidate, but Kansas City is the first team to give him the chance to skipper a major league team.

What might be the first priorities for new KC Royals manager Matt Quatraro?

Immediately facing Quatraro are coaching issues. The club let pitching coach Cal Eldred go when they cut Matheny loose and retained first base coach Damon Hollins and hitting staff members Alec Zumwalt, Keoni DeRenne and Mike Tosar, but left the balance of Matheny’s staff in limbo. So the fates of Grifol, Wilson, and others are, at least at this writing, unknown.

Expect close collaboration between the new manager and his boss, General Manager J.J. Picollo, in picking Eldred’s successor; who replaces Eldred is probably the most important staffing decision they’ll make. Grifol is by all accounts an excellent bench coach, but Quatraro may prefer a coach of his own choosing for that key post, and Grifol is widely reported to have interested the White Sox, who are looking for someone to fill their still vacant managerial post. Fans occasionally panned Wilson’s decisions as third base coach, but their opinion won’t figure into any decisions about his future.

Also expect Thorman to return to his assignment managing Triple-A Omaha.

Picollo will also certainly seek his new skipper’s input on Rule 5-related 40-man roster decisions, which the club must make in a few weeks.

Also anticipate immediate contacts between Quatraro and his players.

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Matt Quatraro is Kansas City’s new manager.