The KC Royals, who parted ways more than three weeks ago after three seasons with manager Mike Matheny, have a new skipper.
Club announced the hiring of Matt Quatraro (Twitter link)Tampa Bay bench coach since 2019, late Sunday afternoons.
News of the Royals interviewing Quatraro spread from various affiliates around baseball a few days ago, but in keeping with the quiet approach the club has taken in searching for Matheny’s replacement, there has been little of substance since then.
What can Quatraro, 48, bring to a franchise struggling to regain some semblance of relevance?
New KC Royals manager Matt Quatraro is a seasoned baseball professional.
The hiring of Quatraro, who played seven years in the minor leagues but never found his way to the big leagues, did not come without some controversy — aside from 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 prior strong ties to the Royals, and the club passed on reported internal candidates Pedro Grifolo, Vance Wilson and Scott Thorman and others outside the organization to land him.
However, being an outsider with arguably new and fresh ideas and philosophies should benefit the Royals, who have floundered in varying degrees of mediocrity since losing 104 games just three seasons after winning the 2015 World Series title. The fresh approach Quatraro is sure to bring won’t hurt. And his hiring represents another departure from the nearly 17-season Dayton Moore era that brought Kansas City two American League pennants and a World Series trophy but only three winning seasons.
And while he’s never been a major league manager before, Quatraro has a solid reputation. Beginning in 2004, just two years after playing his last minor league game, Quatraro began coaching and managing in the Tampa Bay system; served in various coaching roles and managed for four seasons.
From 2014-2017, he served as an assistant hitting coach for manager Terry Francon’s Cleveland staff. He returned to Tampa Bay as the third base coach in 2018 before becoming captain Kevin Cash’s right-hand man as bench coach in 2019.
Quatraro’s a name that’s been mentioned a lot in recent offseasons, and this one looks like an excellent managerial candidate, but Kansas City is the first team to give him a chance to catch a major league team.
What could be new KC Royals manager Matt Quatraro’s first priorities?
Quatraro immediately faces coaching problems. The club let go of pitching coach Cal Eldred when it relieved Matheny and retained first base coach Damon Hollins and hit staff members Alec Zumwalt, Keoni DeRenne and Mike Tosar, but left the balance of Matheny’s staff in limbo. Thus, the fates of Grifolo, Wilson, and others are, at least as of this writing, unknown.
Expect close cooperation between the new manager and his boss, general manager JJ Picoll, in selecting Eldred’s successor; who replaces Eldred is probably the most important personnel decision they will make. Grifol is by all accounts an excellent bench coach, but Quatraro may favor his own man for the key position, and Grifol is widely reported to have been interviewed for the White Sox’s still-vacant managerial job. Fans have pushed Wilson’s decision as a third base coach at times, but their opinion will not figure into any decision about his future.
Also, expect Thorman to return to his job managing Triple-A Omaha.
Picollo will also certainly be looking for his new captain’s input on the Rule 5-related 40-man roster decision the club must make in a few weeks.
Also expect instant contacts between Quatrar and his players.
Matt Quatraro is the new manager of Kansas City.