The Kansas City Royals hired Mike Matheny on Thursday, bringing in a manager who took the cross-state Cardinals to the World Series six years ago before a three-season swoon cost him his job.
The 49-year-old Matheny went 591-474 with the Cardinals and was the first manager to reach the postseason his first four seasons. The Cardinals reached the World Series in 2013, losing to the Boston Red Sox, but Matheny was fired in July 2018 with the team in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.
Matheny was hired last November by the Royals as a special adviser for player development, and the belief among many was that he was being groomed to take over when Ned Yost retired.
That happened shortly before the Royals finished another 100-loss campaign last month.
“Our entire organization is delighted to announce and celebrate the hiring of Mike Matheny,” General Manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. “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.”
The Royals are in the midst of a massive retooling effort after their back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015, a run of success that culminated with their first championship since 1985.
That team’s foundation reached free agency shortly after beating the Mets for the title in 2015, forcing the small-market organization to dismantle and rebuild. Wins have been hard to come by, but the team showed progress this past season as a wave of young position players reached the majors.
The fact that Matheny spent the past season evaluating the progress of those players, along with a batch of talented pitchers still in the minors, gave him a leg up in the competition for the job.
Matheny was a Gold Glove-winning catcher who succeeded Tony La Russa as Cardinals manager after St. Louis won the 2011 World Series. But after some immediate success endeared him to plenty of Cardinals fans, Matheny was just 216-201 in his final two-plus seasons, culminating in the club’s first in-season managerial change since Joe Torre was replaced by Mike Jorgensen in 1995.
Yankees Decline Option for Encarnacion
The Yankees declined their 2020 option for Edwin Encarnacion, making the veteran slugger a free agent.
Encarnación was due $25 million in 2020, but the Yankees bought out the remaining year of his contract for $5 million.
The Yankees acquired the three-time All-Star from Seattle in June to bolster a lineup sapped by injuries. Encarnacion led the American League with 21 homers at the time, but a strained left oblique limited the 36-year-old down the stretch. He hit .249 with 13 homers, 37 R.B.I. and an .856 O.P.S. in 44 regular-season games with the Yankees.
Encarnacion hit .308 while the Yankees pounded Minnesota in the A.L. division series, but he slumped badly in the Championship Series against Houston.
The Yankees also said outfielder Aaron Hicks’s Tommy John surgery went as expected Wednesday.