When Major League Baseball kicks off the 2021 regular season on Thursday, April 1, three teams will be guided by new managers: the White Sox (Tony La Russa), Red Sox (Alex Cora), and Tigers (A.J. Hinch). Each of those three skippers has won a World Series before, affording them the name recognition that helped to obscure an otherwise uneventful winter on the circuit. There's no promise next winter will follow suit. Indeed, there's a fair chance that as many as five or six teams make changes in the dugout between now and Opening Day 2022 (or, ahem, whenever the next season starts).
Below we've highlighted six skippers who appear to be on the hot seat coming into the new year, even if it's for reasons beyond their own doing. Such is life as a big-league manager: credit so often eludes, while blame seldom does. The managers are presented in order of the perceived temperature under their seat, with the hottest coming first.
1. Luis Rojas, Mets
Rojas has a lot working against him. Foremost, the Mets have a new owner and general manager, and incoming regimes often like to pick their own skipper. New York also faces heightened expectations after a busy winter that included the acquisitions of Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, and James McCann, among others. Add in how Rojas wasn't even the first choice of the previous regime, and he's going to have to deliver a playoff run -- possibly even a deep one -- to convince the Mets that he's the long-term solution.
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2. David Bell, Reds
Bell, who led the Reds to the playoffs last fall, is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract. The Reds hold a club option on his services for 2022, but teams tend to shy away from lame-duck situations. It stands to reason, then, that Bell has a lot riding on this season. A disappointing effort could cause the Reds to make a change, whereas another October appearance could persuade them into a long-term extension. Given the Reds' offseason, the former seems more likely.
3. Bud Black, Rockies
Under normal circumstances, we'd rank Black higher because of two reasons: 1) he seems likely to deliver a third consecutive losing season; and 2) he'll be entering the final year of his contract in 2022, making him a lame duck. The Rockies often march to their own beat, however, so attempting to divine what they'll do next is a fool's errand. It's possible that the Rockies, who probably won't sniff the playoffs anytime soon, decide to keep Black around for the long haul as a means of providing some stability.
4. Brandon Hyde, Orioles
Hyde's exact contract details are unknown, but the standard fare for first-time managers is a three-year pact with a club option for a fourth. This is his third year at the helm, meaning the Orioles will likely need to make a call this winter. Baltimore has been abysmal under Hyde's watch, of course, albeit for reasons beyond his control. It would've been difficult to make the playoffs with these Orioles in a video-game setting, let alone in the real world. Whether or not Hyde takes the fall for Mike Elias' nihilistic process is to be seen, but he shouldn't be judged too harshly for the sins of his bosses.
5. Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks
We're listing Lovullo for posterity's sake, as he's entering the final year of his contract and the Diamondbacks had a bad 2020. Still, it would qualify as a minor surprise if Arizona decided to move on. He recorded a winning season in each of his first three seasons, and he has a long-term relationship with the decision-makers dating back to their shared time together in Boston. Were Lovullo to become available, either through dismissal or free agency, he would likely land on his feet with a contender.