- The Houston Astros fired manager A.J. Hinch following the sign-stealing scandal
- Bench coach Joe Espada is the odds-on favorite to succeed Hinch
- Veteran manager Buck Showalter is second-favorite
The Houston Astros are at the center of a historic scandal. Year-long bans were handed out to manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow before both were fired by the organization. Houston have lost their first and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts and were handed the maximum possible fine of $5 million.
Despite remaining one of the favorites in the latest World Series odds, Houston are in turmoil. With Spring Training only a few weeks away, the Astros are desperately looking for a manager to come in and steady the ship. Joe Espada, who is currently their bench coach, is the odds-on favorite.
Houston Astros Manager Odds
Odds taken Jan. 16
Espada was named interim manager after Hinch was sacked. With experience with the team, the 44-year-old would be a way of keeping some continuity despite the chaos of the 2019-20 off-season. Espada only joined the team after the 2017 season, so he’s not directly linked with the sign-stealing that cost Luhnow and Hinch their jobs.
Jim Crane and the Astros organization are likely to name bench coach Joe Espada to be the interim Manager while the team searches for a more permanent replacement. pic.twitter.com/iNmlaYv72q
— ForeverStros☄️ (@ForeverStros) January 13, 2020
Much of the reporting around the scandal has reflected very poorly on the Astros’ culture as a whole, far and beyond the sign stealing. A fresh face, and perhaps an experienced manager, might be Houston’s preferred option as a result. Espada is thought of highly around Major League Baseball, though, and interviewed for the Giants and Cubs jobs earlier this winter.
Likely a popular choice, Espada has a future in management even if Houston decides to appoint externally this time round.
As reported by USA Today, Buck Showalter interviewed for the job on Thursday. The former Baltimore Orioles manager is a three-year American League Manager of the Year and has managed over 3,000 regular-season games. Showalter is at the opposite end of his career to Espada but could be viewed as the steadying force the organization needs at the moment.
Showalter has been linked with other management openings during the off-season after a year away from the dugout. His price was always likely to be short when reports surfaced he had been interviewed, though he’s not the only veteran in contention for the job.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 16, 2020
As the Astros look to begin to rebuild their reputation, Dusty Baker could be the man they opt for. Baker is widely respected and has plenty of experience dealing with superstar talents. Baker has said he’d be interested in managing the Astros, but he hasn’t heard from the organization yet. Having been out of the game since leaving the Washington Nationals after the 2017 season, the former Giants manager might be a way down Houston’s list.
Watch Out for Quatraro
If the Astros want to hire from outside the organization without going for a veteran, Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro could be an option. Placed third in the betting at the moment, Quatraro interviewed for the Giants and Pirates jobs earlier this off-season and, like Espada, is expected to have a career in management.
— theScore (@theScore) January 15, 2020
A move to become a manager, and this job in particular, would be a huge leap for Quatraro. The riskiest of the potential appointments, it would be a leap into the unknown from Houston, but perhaps that’s what they feel they need right now.
Gibbons Best Value
John Gibbons, priced at +950, could be the best bet. A San Antonio native, Gibbons is keen to get back into management after leaving the Blue Jays following the 2018 season. He led some very strong Toronto Blue Jays teams and could be the compromise option for the Astros.
— New York Post (@nypost) January 16, 2020
Gibbons brings experience without being near the end of his career. He’s expected to interview for the job, and this could prove a good opportunity for him to get back in the game and for the Astros to hire a manager with Major League experience to guide them through a difficult few months.