Nearly two weeks have passed since the San Diego Padres fired manager Jayce Tingler following a disappointing 2021 season. It wasn't all Tingler's fault, of course; the Padres suffered from myriad injuries, especially on the pitching side, and their underlying measures suggested they should have won more games than they did. Nevertheless, the Padres decided he was no longer the right individual to lead them.
So, who might become the next Padres manager? It's hard to say. Conventional wisdom has it that teams tend to gravitate toward the opposite of their last manager. In this case, that would mean the Padres go with a veteran skipper -- perhaps even one with championship experience. Padres executive A.J. Preller has already violated that rule of thumb before, hiring the 40-year-old Tingler after previously dismissing Andy Green.
With that in mind, it's fair to write that any list of potential candidates is, like psychic readings in New Jersey, for entertainment purposes only. Allow us to litter the internet with our own guess at five names who could surface in connection to the gig. (Do note that the individuals are listed in order of their perceived likelihood.)
1. Ron Washington
Washington, 69 years old, is currently coaching third base (aggressively and successfully) and teaching infield for the Atlanta Braves. He checks a lot of relevant boxes: he has managerial experience -- eight seasons' worth, with a career 52.1 winning percentage and two World Series appearances; he has a connection to Preller from their shared time with the Texas Rangers; and he even interviewed for the Padres job the last time it was available. A couple of factors that could work against the 69-year-old Washington include his age (though Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker are both older); his unusual departure from the Rangers; and his reputation for being subpar tactically.
2. Bruce Bochy
Bochy, 66 years old, technically retired after the 2019 season. If Tony La Russa can come back for One More Job, then why can't Boch? In all seriousness, he's a future Hall of Famer thanks to a run with the San Francisco Giants that saw him win three World Series titles. It's worth noting that Bochy managed the Padres from 1995-2006, a stretch that saw him finish with a 49.4 winning percentage and a pennant. (It doesn't hurt that he's the kind of flashy name that Preller might pursue to appease ownership.) Bochy has all the leverage in any potential negotiations, so he's unlikely to come cheap, if he comes at all.
3. Mike Shildt
The 53-year-old Shildt is a recent addition to the candidate pool, having been canned by the St. Louis Cardinals despite a third consecutive trip to the postseason. Shildt lacks obvious connections to Preller, but sometimes that kind of stuff is overstated. It's possible that the Padres (and others) are cautious about him given the odd circumstances surrounding his dismissal -- usually winning is enough to keep one employed, so he would need to explain what caused St. Louis to move on. Sure enough, the Padres are planning to interview Shildt, but also want to know what happened between him and the Cardinals, reports Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Padres plan to interview Mike Shildt but are still investigating exactly why he was let go in St. Louis.— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) October 18, 2021
There are no plans to interview Ron Washington.
4. Jeff Banister
Banister, 57 years old, didn't overlap with Preller during their times with the Rangers. He does, however, have ample managerial experience, having led Texas to a winning record across four seasons. Banister is currently the director of player development at the University of Northern Colorado.
5. Don Wakamatsu
Here's a shot in the dark. Not only should Preller have personal insight into Wakamatsu based on their shared time in Texas, but he has a managerial track record to reference. Wakamatsu spent parts of two seasons as the Seattle Mariners skipper in 2009-10, posting one winning season and one disastrous year. He's since served as a bench coach for various clubs, including the Rangers. He'll turn 59 years old next February, and at some point he should receive another chance at the big job.