The Padres recently gave manager Bob Melvin permission to pursue a job with the Giants, which quickly resulted in Melvin making the switch and signing a three-year deal. Now the Padres have their own managerial vacancy to deal with.
It was immediately speculated that bench coach Ryan Flaherty and senior advisor Mike Shildt were the top internal options and that seems to have been borne out this week. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Shildt was interviewed Wednesday, with Flaherty scheduled to have his own interview on Friday. But it won’t be just those two getting consideration, as Acee says it’s likely pitching coach Ruben Niebla will be in the mix, in addition to external candidates.
“I think we’ll sit down with some internal candidates the next few days, but we’re going to make sure we exhaust all the different possibilities to get the right choice. There’s no real timeframe,” president of A.J. Preller tells Acee. “It’s a big offseason for us. We’ve got a lot of decisions to make. This is the first one. We want to try to get it right.”
Flaherty, 37, joined the Padres in November of 2019 as quality control coach. In January of 2022, the Mets were interested in him for their vacant bench coach position, but the Padres denied that club permission to interview him. That perhaps indicates the Padres are quite fond of Flaherty and they made him bench coach in San Diego a year later. He doesn’t have managerial experience but is clearly well respected around the game, having garnered plenty of interest since retiring as a player.
Shildt, 55, managed the Cardinals from 2018 to 2021 but was surprisingly dismissed after clashing with the front office. He then joined the Padres in a player development role but has expressed an interest in returning to the dugout at some point.
Niebla, 51, has been around the game for some time, having served as a coach in the minor leagues for many years. He was hired by the Padres to be their pitching coach after the 2021 season. It’s unknown if the club is interested in interviewing him but Acee relays that Niebla has previously expressed an interesting in managing.
It’s unknown which external candidates will be considered or how long the Padres plan to take to make a hire, but it seems they don’t have a strict timeline based on Preller’s comments. It’s a key offseason for the club, who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2023 season. The club had a run differential of +104, which was actually third best in the National League and miles better than the -15 of the pennant-winning Diamondbacks. But the Padres went 9-23 in one-run games and 2-12 in extra innings, causing them to fall just shy of the playoffs.
Reports emerged after the season of discord between Preller and Melvin. While they initially planned to work together again in 2024, the Giants came calling and it seems the Padres did little to stand in the way of Melvin jumping to the Giants. They received no compensation for Melvin’s departure, apparently content to get his $4MM salary off the books and start fresh with a new skipper. The Friars have a number of high-priced veterans and will surely be motivated to win while those players are still in/near their primes. It’s also their final season before Juan Soto departs via free agency, though other teams figure to call and talk trades, especially with the Padres looking to cut some costs.