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Exploring the top MLB managerial candidates and potential landing spots

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The list features a solid balance of both experienced and first-time managerial candidates

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

Every offseason, a handful of baseball teams decide to fire their managers in search of better fits for the franchise. Teams opt to explore the routes of older or younger, analytical or traditional, offensive or defensive. Dozens upon dozens of baseball staffers — some with unique jobs, some with basic coaching jobs — receive interviews, but there’s only enough room for one new manager for every team with a vacancy.

Here are some of the top managerial candidates and potential landing spots. Some managers on this list simply have potential landing spots, while some will also have a “likely home” notation that indicates the candidate is one of the few who seem most likely to actually receive a managerial job this offseason.

Joe Maddon

Maddon spent the last five years (wow, time flies) managing the Chicago Cubs, making the postseason four of five times and winning one World Series championship. He went 471-339 in his five campaigns with Chicago. The now-65-year-old Maddon spent plenty of time as a player and manager for the Angels in what I suppose would now be considered his “early days.” The Angels have a vacancy and are expected to hire him any day now.

Likely Home: Los Angeles Angels

Other Fits: San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates

Bob Geren

Geren is another former baseball player (and more specifically, catcher) in the running for a managerial role this offseason. Geren, currently the bench coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, doesn't really have one team he’d be a perfect fit for. Rather, there are a few teams he is expected to interview with in hopes of one of them offering him the gig.

Potential Fits: San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates

Carlos Beltran

Beltran is one of the younger managerial candidates this offseason. A former player for the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers, Beltran is now a special advisor to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. He’s looking for a managerial gig, though. He interviewed for the Yankees’ vacancy that went to Aaron Boone, and now there are more teams interested in him.

Potential Fits: New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates

Joe Girardi

Girardi, perhaps best known for his solid stint as Yankees manager, has been on the open market for a few years now, filling that gap with some work as a TV analyst. His return to a coaching staff seems imminent and there are multiple teams who would benefit from his services. The Mets seem like a top fit for him with the Cubs and a couple other squads likely to interview him.

Likely Home: New York Mets

Other Fits: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants

Joe Espada

Espada should also receive some looks, although it seems likely he ultimately remains as the Houston Astros’ bench coach. Espada’s playing career consisted of time spent in the Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays organizations. Espada spent time as a Marlins minor league coach and a Yankees front office assistant and coach before replacing Alex Cora as Houston’s bench coach.

Potential Fits: New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets

Mike Matheny

Matheny, another former catcher, spent nearly seven years as the Cardinals’ manager before taking a job as a Royals special advisor for the 2019 season. With multiple cases being made for Ned Yost to either retire or be fired last offseason, Matheny was hired and immediately viewed as the heir apparent. That remains to be the argument as the Royals’ vacancy has arrived.

Likely Home: Kansas City Royals

Other Fits: New York Mets

Mark Loretta

The Cubs lost bench coach Brandon Hyde to the Orioles last offseason and now they’re expected to lose bench coach Mark Loretta to ... someone. Loretta, a 15-year playing veteran who has been working on baseball staffs for a decade, was both a Padres player and assistant while also playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Likely Home: San Diego Padres

Other Fits: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels

David Ross

This one is quite simple. Ross will leave ESPN for one team: the Cubs, for whom he used to catch. The ball is now in the Cubs’ court as they decide who they want to hire.

Likely Home: Chicago Cubs

Sam Fuld

Fuld, a former outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, and Minnesota Twins, now serves as the Philadelphia Phillies’ player information coordinator. As of last offseason, Fuld had multiple interviews and requests from teams with vacancies but he withdrew his name. The assumption is that the only team he would interview with this offseason is the Phillies, and while they don't have a vacancy yet, there’s some murkiness surrounding Gabe Kapler’s 2020 status.

Likely Home: Philadelphia Phillies (as manager or remaining in current role, depending on Kapler’s status)

Other Fits: Chicago Cubs

Buck Showalter

Buck Showalter really shouldn't be on this list, because some people are excluded here despite being better fits than the former O’s skipper. But Manny Machado is reportedly making a push for the Padres to hire Showalter, so he receives a mention.

Potential Fits: San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets

Hensley Meulens

Hensley Meulens is close to being the league’s most deserving managerial candidate, but he’s not quite there yet. However, considering his status as soon-to-be managerial target, it would be wise of the Giants to make an internal move and name him as their manager. It’s unlikely he finds a job anywhere other than San Francisco this offseason, but if the Giants wait long enough, Meulens will be someone else’s treasure.

Potential Fit: San Francisco Giants

Ron Washington

Washington’s name had loosely appeared across some managerial rumors this week and I didn’t plan on including him in this piece, but then the video of him working with Ozzie Albies surfaced and I remembered how great of an actual coach and teacher he is. The former skipper should get some serious consideration for another managerial gig.

Potential Fits: Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals

Jeff Banister

Banister is currently a special assistant with the Pirates, the team home to one of the most unattractive managerial vacancies in recent baseball history. Banister doesn’t really deserve another gig at the moment, but out of everyone who would actually want the Pirates job, Banister is the most qualified.

Likely Home: Pittsburgh Pirates