Fredi Gonzalez became the first manager fired this season when he was let go by the Braves yesterday, meaning Atlanta will immediately begin to consider a wide array of candidates to become the team's next manager. Triple-A skipper Brian Snitker was named interim manager, and will run the team for at least the rest of the season.
One organizational source said Tuesday that the search will be a "wide-open process," and that there is no clear favorite as some in the media have suggested. Though it is very early in the search process, here's an early look at some potential candidates to take over in Atlanta.
Brian Snitker, interim manager
Snitker, 60, was rewarded for his loyalty to the Braves' organization by being promoted from manager at Triple-A Gwinnett to interim manager Tuesday. Snitker has been with Atlanta since 1977 as a minor-league player, minor-league manager, bullpen coach and third base coach.
Snitker has been the manager of Gwinnett since 2014, so he has a lot of familiarity with the young players who now comprise the core of the team's major-league roster. General manager John Copppolella said Tuesday that Snitker would be considered as a long-term candidate at season's end, though it will be hard for him to have on-field success with the limited resources at his disposal.
Terry Pendleton, bench coach
Pendleton, 55, was promoted from first base coach to bench coach when the team replaced Gonzalez with Snitker. He was considered as a candidate for interim manager before team brass decided to go with Snitker, and MLB.com's Mark Bowman calls him one of the "early favorites."
Pendleton played for the Braves from 1991 to 1994 and has coached for the organization since the 2002 season. He has been considered for managerial jobs in the past (Nationals in 2006, Braves in 2011) and is thought to be one of the stronger in-house candidates for Atlanta this time around. His increased role as the team's bench coach will give him the opportunity to participate in more of a managerial role.
Eddie Perez, first base coach
Perez, 48, was promoted from bullpen coach to first base coach Tuesday, replacing Pendleton. He is also considered an "early favorite," according to Bowman.
Perez played with the Braves from 1995 to 2001 and has been a coach with the club since 2007, serving as bullpen coach until Tuesday. He has managed in the Venezuelan Winter League for four seasons (2008-10, 2014-16), with both the Aguilas del Zulia and the Tigres de Aragua. In a game where bilingual managers have increased value, the Braves could look to tab Perez.
Bo Porter, third base coach
Porter, 43, is the only in-house candidate with previous major-league managerial experience, as he led the Astros for two seasons in 2013 and 2014. Disagreements with general manager Jeff Luhnow ultimately led to Porter's firing in Houston, so he is likely to be hired as a long-term option for Atlanta only if he is ideologically aligned with Coppolella.
Porter has no connections to the Braves' organization outside of his 2-year stint as third base coach, but will likely at least get an interview due to his status in the organization and previous managing experience.
Bud Black, Angels special assistant
Black, 58, has worked in the Angels front office since November after being fired by the Padres last June. He was rumored to be the leading candidate to land the Nationals' managerial opening this winter, though a breakdown in contract talks led to Washington's hiring of Dusty Baker.
Though USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported earlier this month that Black is the strong favorite to become Atlanta's full-time manager next year, a source within the organization downplayed that possibility this week. It appears some in the organization have not even heard Black's name associated with the opening, though Nightengale's report suggests there are others within the team's front office that are pushing for the ex-Padres skipper. Black worked under both Braves president of baseball operations John Hart (in Cleveland) and senior adviser John Schuerholz (in Kansas City), so there is familiarity between him and team higher-ups.
Torey Lovullo, Red Sox bench coach
Lovullo, 50, is expected to be a leading candidate for multiple managerial positions this winter after agreeing to stick with Boston and not pursue managerial options last winter. He stepped in when Red Sox manager John Farrell took a leave of absence as he battled cancer, and is highly regarded by many around the game.
Though a report Tuesday indicated that Lovullo has not been contacted by the Braves, his name has come up often in connection to the opening and the team is likely to do its due diligence on the hottest managerial candidate of the offseason.
Mark DeRosa, MLB Network analyst
DeRosa, 41, currently works for MLB Network and has never held a major-league coaching job, but is familiar with the Braves' organization from his stint as a player from 1998 to 2004. Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently reported that DeRosa will be considered by Braves, and that he is highly regarded in the team's front office.
DeRosa is a Penn graduate and was known as a clubhouse leader throughout his 16-year major-league career, so Atlanta may turn to him as they look at outside-the-box candidates this winter. The potential hiring of DeRosa would continue a trend of hiring managers with no coaching experience like Mike Matheny (Cardinals), Brad Ausmus (Tigers), Robin Ventura (White Sox) and Walt Weiss (Rockies).
Chipper Jones, Braves special assistant
Jones, 44, will be discussed frequently over the next few months, though it appears he is not a leading candidate. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported Tuesday that Jones is "not interested" in managing the Braves in 2017.
Jones could change his mind, and would almost surely be granted an interview with the Braves, with whom he played for from 1993 to 2012. At this point, the idea of Chipper at the helm of the Braves appears unlikely.