Who might replace Mike Matheny as Royals manager? What experts and fans are saying

Patrick Semansky/AP

Many Royals fans got what they wanted Wednesday, hours after the team finished the season in last place in the American League Central.

Royals General Manager J.J. Picollo announced that manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred won’t be back for the 2023 season, setting off a mix of joy and relief among the team’s fanbase.

Many had wanted to see the moves happen and Picollo didn’t waste any time.

Now with the changes having been made, who might be in the dugout in the 2023 season? Here is what fans are saying and names that have been brought up by a couple of national baseball writers.

A week ago, the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal mentioned a pair of potential candidates: Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro.

Former Star reporter Andy McCullough, who is also with the Athletic, mentioned Quatraro, among his eight candidates to replace Matheny.

Others include Tigers bench coach George Lombard, Phillies third base-coach Dusty Wathan (the son of John Wathan, who has spent much of his life with the Royals), Red Sox bench coach Will Venable and Astros bench coach Joe Espada.

Jon Morosi of the MLB Network reported Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough is a being considered for the Royals’ opening.

Here is a closer look at candidates that fans have mentioned they want to see.

Pedro Grifol

The Royals bench coach since the 2020 season, Grifol has been with the franchise since 2013.

Matt Quatraro

As Rosenthal mentioned in his story, Quatraro was Cleveland’s hitting coach from 2014 to 2016 when Royals chairman/CEO John Sherman was that team’s minority owner.

Joe Espada

The Astros bench coach has interviewed with five teams in the past to be manager and is seen as a candidate for the Marlins opening, as NJ.com noted.

Alex Zumwalt

After firing Terry Bradshaw as hitting coach earlier this season, the Royals moved Zumwalt to the dugout. He is the team’s senior director of player development and hitting performance.

Raúl Ibañez

Ibañez, a former Royals player, is MLB’s Senior Vice President of On-Field Operations. He said in 2019 he wasn’t interested in interviewing for a manager’s job but times change.

Carlos Beltrán

The former Royals star was hired by the Mets as manager in 2020 before being fired for his role in the Astros cheating scandal.

Joe Maddon

Maddon, 68, was mentioned often on social media by Royals fans as a top choice. He won a World Series title with the Cubs in 2016, and won an AL pennant with the Rays. He was fired by the Angels in June.

Brian Bannister

The former Royals pitcher is the Giants’ director of pitching, and fans would like to see him as manager or pitching coach in place of Eldred.

Other names Royals fans mentioned: Kai Corrrea, Mike Schildt, Jayce Tingler and Ron Washington.