After hiring Rocco Baldelli as manager Thursday, the Twins went right to work on shaping their coaching staff for 2019.
The restructuring will be major.
Five members of the staff — pitching coach Garvin Alston, first base coach Jeff Smith, third base coach Gene Glynn, bullpen coach Eddie Guardado and major league coach Jeff Pickler — will not be back next season. The moves were confirmed Tuesday by major league sources, but the team made no announcement.
Bench coach Derek Shelton, one of three finalists for the Twins job before Baldelli was hired, will interview for the Rangers managerial job. The Twins would love to have Shelton return as bench coach, where he was a hit with the players, and he has a relationship with Baldelli from their days in Tampa Bay. It is not clear if Shelton will agree to return to the role if he doesn’t land the Rangers job.
Hitting coach James Rowson and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez retained their jobs.
Baldelli, at his introductory news conference, spoke of the importance of having a coaching staff with different backgrounds, and has helped the staff connect with the Latin players on the team.
“I’m looking for a very diverse staff,” Baldelli said. “That would be a great place to start and great to have wonderful Latino coaches. One of my best friends, who was just named manager of the Blue Jays [Charlie Montoyo], I’ve seen him relate to players in ways that I can’t. Although I would try very hard in some ways, I see him just step up and do things.
“The goal here is when you have an entire group that … comes from different places, speak different languages, have different coaching backgrounds … when you have a group that does all these different things, then you’re really giving yourself a chance to have success. Because, if you don’t have that kind of group, I think you will struggle.”
Tuesday’s moves signal sweeping changes as Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine search for the right mix of coaches who can get the most out of their players.
“This is one of the most important, if not the most important, initial topics for all of us to spend time on,” Baldelli said. “The construction of a staff is essential to a major league baseball team having success and creating environment and getting where we want to be.”
Glynn, Pickler and Guardado had their contracts expire after the season. Alston’s stint as pitching coach lasted only one season, in which the Twins’ 4.50 ERA was 21st in baseball but slightly better than the 4.59 ERA the staff posted in 2017. The 2018 staff walked more batters than in 2017 but it struck out more (although strikeouts were up throughout the league) and gave up 198 home runs as opposed to 224 in 2017.
Some of the coaches will be offered roles elsewhere in the organization. That is the case for Guardado, 48, a member of the Twins Hall of Fame. A two-time All-Star, he pitched in 908 major league games, including a club-record 648 for the Twins.
The Twins are expected to look at coaching candidates from inside and outside of the organization, and have been contacting clubs to seek permission to speak with some potential targets on their wish list. With six managerial spots having opened since the end of the regular season — and other clubs tweaking their staffs — the market for coaches could be a fluid one.
• The Twins bought out the contract options of designated hitter Logan Morrison and pitcher Ervin Santana, making them free agents. Morrison was due to get $8 million in 2019 and Santana $14 million; both will get a $1 million buyout.
Santana would have been the highest-paid player on the team.