When Ned Yost announced in September that he would retire as Kansas City Royals' manager at the end of the 2019 season, former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny became the obvious favorite to take over the reins in Kansas City. Matheny, 49, had spent the entire year with the organization, after coming on board last November as a special advisor to general manager Dayton Moore, re: player development.
On Thursday, a day after the 2019 season came to an emphatic end, the Royals announced the hiring of Matheny as their next manager.
The Cardinals fired Matheny last July with a 47-46 record. Matheny became the first MLB manager to be fired mid-season while holding a winning record since the Milwaukee Brewers fired Yost in 2008. In seven seasons with the Cards, Matheny went 591-474, reached the playoffs four times and won the 2013 pennant, falling to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. But under Matheny, the Cards' winning percentage dropped each season after 2015 and when he was fired, they were on pace to miss the postseason for a third straight year (which eventually did happen) -- something that St. Louis had not done since 1997-99. Matheny also spent 13 years as a big-league catcher for the Brewers, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Giants, winning four Gold Gloves.
"Our entire organization is delighted to announce and celebrate the hiring of Mike Matheny," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a press release. "Every department has had the pleasure to work and interact with him this past season. Through this interaction, it became very clear to our leadership team that Mike is the obvious person to lead our baseball team. Mike Matheny is a passionate leader with strong virtues, intelligence, and a relentless commitment to help players reach their full potential. We are looking forward to him and Kristin being a part of this very special city."
Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler are expected to be frequent names mentioned in trade rumors this offseason. Longtime starting catcher Salvador Perez missed the 2019 season after damage to the ulnar collateral ligament required Tommy John surgery. And, this past August, news broke that David Glass is nearing an agreement to sell the franchise to John Sherman, the vice president of the Cleveland franchise.
The Royals finished the 2019 season 59-103 (minus-178 run differential), and are still a few years away from seeing their rebuild translate into wins. There's still a lot of unknown for this franchise, which took home the World Series title just four seasons ago.