The news that Rick Renteria will not be retained as White Sox manager means there are now three MLB managerial vacancies heading into the 2020-21 offseason. In addition to the White Sox, the Tigers and Red Sox will also be looking for new skippers. Skilled candidates, both tenured veterans and aspiring first-timers, abound, and presumably the strongest candidates will be under consideration for more than one of those jobs.
So if you're one of those candidates, which of these three jobs should be atop your wish list? Let's briefly explore each situation and rank them from one to three.
|Renteria's bygone club is coming off a breakout season in which they won at a .583 clip, tied for second place in the tough AL Central, and matched the Rays for best run differential in the AL. That's coming off a 72-89 season in 2019, so there's very much a positive trajectory in play. Speaking of positive trajectory, the Sox have one of the most impressive young cores of position players in all of baseball. Center fielder Luis Robert, left fielder/DH Eloy Jimenez, and third baseman Yoan Moncada form the beating heart of that core, and second baseman Nick Madrigal seems primed to join them. While at age 27 shortstop Tim Anderson isn't notably young in baseball terms, he's still in his prime and figures to be a leading contributor for years to come. The same goes for 26-year-old ace Lucas Giolito. All that young to young-ish talent is complemented by veterans like first baseman/philosopher-king Jose Abreu (who's swiftly arrested all talk of a decline phase with an MVP-grade 2020 season), catcher Yasmani Grandal, and lefty starter Dallas Keuchel. In the rotation, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning showed promise in 2020, and there are still realistic hopes that Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez can be of value. Also, don't forget about top pitching prospect Michael Kopech, who's no doubt hoping to take the next step in 2021. Best of all, all of those above names are under team control through at least the 2022 season. The core is deeply impressive, and ownership has shown some willingness to spend in the service of building around that core. All of that makes this the most coveted managerial job in MLB. The downside is that there's immediate pressure to win, especially in the postseason.|
|The Red Sox, World Series champs a mere two years ago, cratered badly in 2020, and that was partly by design (the cynical and unnecessary trade of Mookie Betts being the main offender). There's no justification for a team as well heeled as the money-printing Red Sox to take the Competitive Balance Tax (a.k.a. the luxury tax) seriously, but they did and now they're under it. That should herald greater investment in the roster going forward, even if GM Chaim Bloom was trained within the Rays' cultish devotion to "payroll efficiency." There's also talent in place, at least in the lineup. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Alex Verdugo are strong pieces, and despite his disappointments Andrew Benintendi still has an impressive ceiling. All those guys are under team control through at least 2022. Elsewhere, Christian Vazquez looks like a perfectly useful starting catcher long-term, and Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec profile as potential contributors on a winning team. Shortstop Jeter Downs, one of the notable names acquired in that Betts trade, could be ready for the highest level at some point in 2021. On the pitching front, much depends upon how well Eduardo Rodriguez is able to come back from his serious COVID-related complications. He's still just 26. Much depends upon ownership's willingness to be active on the free agent market and in taking on salary via trade. Indications are that they're planning to do just that, which could position the Sox for a rebound in 2021. Also appealing for the next manager is the low bar set in 2020 -- Boston's .400 win percentage is its lowest since 1965.|
|The Tigers have endured four straight losing seasons and aren't far removed from a 114-loss campaign in 2019. While they were more respectable in 2020, the bar for recent success is quite low. If you're the new manager, however, that low bar is actually a good thing. What's also a good thing is the young pitching situation. Casey Mize has the wherewithal to be a future frontline starter, and Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning also have strong potential as long-term members of the Detroit rotation. On the hitting front, Spencer Torkelson, the top overall pick of the 2020 draft, should move very quickly through the system and could be in place at some point next season. He has tremendous potential with the bat and is the kind of hitter around which lineups are built. Isaac Paredes and Daz Cameron are also top-50 or so prospects and should be core contributors on the next relevant Tigers team. For that to happen soon, though, the Tigers will need to hit on most of these names, and their recent player-development track record is at least questionable. Sharing a division with the White Sox, Twins, and pitching-factory Indians also isn't optimal. That said, there's young talent in place and family ownership that takes winning seriously when it's feasible.|