The Rangers have decided to part ways with manager Jeff Banister, per a Friday afternoon report from the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant. Former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu will be the club’s interim manager for the season’s final 10 games, as the team confirmed quickly after Grant’s report:
Sources: Rangers to make change at manager; Jeff Banister will be out after 4 seasons https://t.co/oIiQ06kGbF— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) September 21, 2018
Source confirms: Don Wakamatsu will finish out season as Rangers interim manager. ... I suspect he will be a candidate for long-term managerial job. He should be.— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) September 21, 2018
The Texas Rangers announced today that Jeff Banister has been dismissed as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season effective immediately.— John Blake (@RangerBlake) September 21, 2018
The 54-year-old Banister led the Rangers to two straight first-place finishes in his first two years as manager, going 88-74 in 2015 and then 95-67 in 2016. But as the team’s core fell apart — Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels were traded, Yovani Gallardo, Mitch Moreland, and Ian Desmond left as free agents, Prince Fielder retired, and Adrian Beltre declined due to injury and age — the front office struggled to fill holes with effective young players, and the conseuqences were evident through the Rangers’ on-field performance. The team finished in third place in the AL West last year with a 78-84 record and was unable to capture a third straight playoff berth, and after they tore down at the trade deadline last year, they didn’t really restock during the offseason and became one of the majors’ worst clubs this season. Largely because of a subpar pitching staff that has posted a 4.97 team ERA, good for 28th in the majors, Texas has stumbled to a 64-88 record this season and has already clinched last place in the AL West.
Banister was heading into the final year of his contract, so this offseason was an obvious time for the front office to make a decision on his future. Banister, who has a 325-313 career record, will end his tenure as one of only four full-time managers in franchise history to finish with a winning record.
The 55-year-old Wakamatsu, who managed the Mariners in 2009-10, finished fourth in AL Manager of the Year voting in ‘09 while leading Seattle to an 85-77 record. But after the team regressed significantly and posted a 61-101 record during his second year on the job, he was let go. Since then, he’s served as the bench coach for the Blue Jays, Royals, and Rangers, and he won a World Series ring as part of Kansas City’s staff in 2015. This was his first season as a member of the Rangers’ coaching staff. Wakamatsu was the first Asian-American manager in MLB history and, along with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, remains one of just two Asian-American individuals ever to hold a major-league managerial position.