Boston Red Sox coach Will Venable’s first shot at managing a major-league team is coming.
It just won’t be with the Kansas City Royals.
The Boston bench coach/outfield instructor was one of several candidates for the gig after the Royals announced that Mike Matheny wouldn’t return in 2023. Instead, the Royals hired Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro as their next manager.
Coincidentally, Quatraro is replacing a former Red Sox rival. A four-time Gold Glove catcher, Matheny played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 and then managed them in 2013. The Sox then drafted his son Tate in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, but he never made it past Triple-A and retired in February of this year.
Why didn’t the Royals hire Red Sox coach Will Venable?
As adept a coach as Venable may be – and his several interviews for managerial gigs over the last few years back up that claim – it makes sense that the Royals would want to target a Rays coach, instead. After all, the Sox hired Rays exec Chaim Bloom to turn this roller-coaster franchise into a consistently smooth ride, but so far, they’ve finished in last place in two of his first three seasons. As such, this offseason and next year will be a huge test for him.
But the Royals seem to be operating with some real urgency, which makes sense, as they haven’t been a .500 team or better since 2016 and have been under .500 a whopping eighteen times since 2000. New-ish owner John Sherman, who bought the team in 2019, seems sick enough of losing to try and do something about it, as he’s replaced his GM and field manager in the last two months. And since Quatraro joined the Rays in 2018, they’ve made the postseason each year since 2019 (they also won 90 games in 2018). The Sox have been more of a mixed bag, so fair or not, Venable is, too, by association; after an unexpected run to the ALCS in 2021, they finished at the bottom of the division this year.
Venable only turned 40 over the weekend, but he’s already put himself on the map as a future skipper. The Red Sox interviewed him before ultimately re-hiring Alex Cora in the fall of 2020, but gave him the bench coach gig, likely in part to keep other teams from hiring him, in case Cora didn’t work out the second time around. The coach got his first taste of big-league managing in May of 2021 when Cora went home to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, and again in 2022, when the Sox manager tested positive for COVID-19. He’s also been interviewed by the Oakland A’s, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, and Detroit Tigers, but so far, no takers.
There are still a few open managerial positions around the league, but should Venable not get a call, his job in Boston will be waiting for him. Cora confirmed earlier this month that the entire coaching staff would be back in 2023, if they so chose.