The Texas Rangers announced Friday that Jeff Banister has been dismissed as the team's manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of the 2018 season.
"I informed Jeff Banister of our decision earlier today," said Rangers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels. "I want to thank Jeff for his dedication and efforts with the Texas Rangers over the last four years. This organization is very appreciative of what he has contributed to the club on the field and in the community.
"This was not an easy decision and comes after a long period of evaluation. However, we feel that a change in the leadership of our Major League club is necessary as we move forward. Once this conclusion was reached, I felt it was appropriate to make the move now. On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Jeff and his family the best."
Banister has a record of 325-313 since being appointed as the 18th full-time manager in club history on Oct. 16, 2014. The Rangers won the AL West title in each of his first two seasons (2015-16), then lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Division Series both times.
Banister had one season remaining on his contract; the club exercised the 2019 option shortly after the 2017 season ended.
"I want to thank Rangers ownership and Jon Daniels for giving me this opportunity," Banister said is a statement. "We had some great times here, but it doesn't last forever. I also want to thank the coaches, field staff, and especially the players who made it an honor for me to wear the Rangers uniform. And to the fans, I can't tell you how much I have appreciated your support and kind words over the last four years. I certainly regret that we were not able to make a deeper playoff run for you in 2015 and 2016.
"Certainly I am disappointed that I was not able to finish the job. But this has been the experience of a lifetime. Thank you."
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson reported in a column on Thursday that Banister's communication skills with his players had come under fire recently, with pitchers sometimes not knowing when their next start would be while some position players would find themselves in the lineup having previously been assured a day off.
"This was not an easy decision and comes after a long period of evaluation," general manager Jon Daniels told reporters in a press conference on Friday, adding, "Once this conclusion was reached, I felt it was appropriate to make the move now ... We would benefit from a change in leadership."
Interim manager Wakamatsu rejoined the Rangers on November 6, 2017 after four seasons as the bench coach in Kansas City. He previously served on Texas' Major League coaching staff as bench coach (2003-06) and third base coach (2007).
The 55-year-old Wakamatsu managed Seattle from the start of 2009 until Aug. 9, 2010 with a 127-147 overall record. He also has been a big-league coach with Oakland (2008) and Toronto (2011-12).
Texas currently sits in last place in the American League West with a 64-88 record, and this will be the first time since 2007-08 the Rangers have had consecutive losing seasons. The losing trend for the team over the last two years led to the trades of Yu Darvish in 2017 and Cole Hamels this season. but with the firing of Banister, this might be Texas unofficially declaring the start of their rebuild.