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A’s hire Mark Kotsay as new manager

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A’s coach and former outfielder becomes the skipper

San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s have their new manager.

The A’s promoted from within the organization, hiring Mark Kotsay for the job, reports insider Jon Heyman on Monday. The team hasn’t yet made an official announcement. (Update, Tuesday morning: It’s official! Three-year contract with a club option for 2025.)

Kotsay has been on Oakland’s coaching staff for the past six seasons. He began as the bench coach in 2016, shifted to a role called Quality Control Coach in 2018, and then served as the third-base coach in 2021. During his playing career he spent 17 seasons in the majors, including four summers as a star outfielder for the A’s from 2004-2007.

Now the 46-year-old gets his first chance as an MLB skipper. Over the last couple winters he’d become a hot target around the league as a future manager, interviewing with at least five other teams, but he’ll stay put in Oakland where he’ll likely guide a small-budget rebuilding roster.

The A’s managerial position opened up a couple months ago, when longtime skipper Bob Melvin departed for the Padres after more than a decade in the East Bay. They interviewed a half-dozen candidates for the vacancy, including three in-house and three from outside the org, all of whom were looking for their debut opportunities in the majors. One way or other, they were going with a rookie manager in 2022.

The choice of Kotsay isn’t a surprise. He seemed like an obvious front-runner from the start, especially after former bench coach Ryan Christenson followed Melvin to San Diego, and indeed his name popped up in rumors multiple times over the past few weeks.

With the new boss in place, the next question is what the rest of the coaching staff will look like. At the very least, they need a new bench coach and third-base coach. As for the player roster, that will have to wait a bit longer, as MLB player transactions are frozen indefinitely during the league’s lockout.

Analysis

In an Athletics Nation poll a couple weeks ago, 72% of the nearly 700 respondents preferred Kotsay of the six candidates who had reportedly interviewed.

He’s both the safe pick and an exciting one. He’s an internal hire and a familiar presence who’s been around the team for a while, but not just a boring, default, next man up. He’s a highly respected upcomer who was firmly on the league’s radar, and if there’s a silver lining to the beloved Melvin leaving when he did it’s that the timing worked out for Kotsay to get his chance here in Oakland instead of elsewhere.

Among the rave reviews are these words by Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle:

“I’m so happy to see Mark Kotsay get a chance to manage; it was clear during his playing days he was among the most astute observers of the game and universally respected. It will be fun to see what he does with what is likely to be young, rebuilding team.”

Former teammate and current A’s Double-A manager Bobby Crosby added this, via Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle:

“He’s not going to go in and be the hard, grizzled type of manager, I don’t see that. He’s going to be a guy that the players can go and talk to, that they can lean on.”

Congrats to Kots on his new job!