It’s been just over a year since Buck Showalter’s eight-plus-year tenure as Orioles’ manager ended. Since then, the Orioles have undergone a makeover, and Showalter, the 24th-winningest manager in baseball history, has been out of the game.
This year, Showalter spent most of the year in his Dallas home. In the second half of the season, he did studio commentary and a few games for the New York Yankees YES network.
While there’s no doubt that Showalter is a superior baseball observer, he’s a better manager. And although he often proclaimed during his Orioles years that Baltimore was his final stop, he would love the challenge of managing a fifth major league team.
ESPN’s Buster Onley has reported that Manny Machado has implored the San Diego Padres to at least consider him as their new manager.
Machado, who signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres before the 2019 season, flourished under Showalter in Baltimore. But under manager Andy Green, who was dismissed by San Diego late in the season, Machado hit just .256, the lowest in any of his eight seasons. He also had 32 homers and 85 RBIs.
In San Diego, Machado was back at third base, his position for most of his Orioles career, and where Showalter thinks he fits best.
The Padres have some exciting young players in 20-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and right-handed pitcher Chris Paddack, both of whom are likely to receive National League Rookie of the Year votes.
San Diego’s farm system is ranked among the best in baseball, and that would make the Padres’ job a plum.
However, a report on Tuesday night in the San Diego Union-Tribune said that Showalter was not being considered by the Padres.
Showalter also would work well with the New York Mets, who last week fired Mickey Callaway, who also pitched for Showalter with Texas in 2003 and 2004.
Showalter’s first managerial job was with the New York Yankees from 1992-1995, and he is respected by the New York media.
But Showalter’s vast experience might be trumped by some recent experience. His principal competition for the Mets’ job could be Joe Girardi, who managed the Yankees from 2008-2017.
Girardi has provided incisive television commentary this season. His work on Fox Sports during the Houston-Tampa Bay series has been exemplary.
It could turn out that the best landing place for Showalter is one that isn’t open at the moment.
The Philadelphia Phillies have undertaken an extraordinarily long examination of Gabe Kapler’s two seasons as manager and might not make a decision on his future until later this week.
There have been whispers linking Showalter to a possible opening in Philadelphia, and many reasons to believe it would be a good fit.
Showalter has been an admirer of Phillies team president Andy MacPhail, who hired him to manage the Orioles in July 2010.
Although general manager Matt Klentak hired Kapler, Showalter liked his work under MacPhail with the Orioles.
The Phillies also have several former Oriole employees — Dean Albany, Ned Rice and Ben Werthan in their front office, all of whom have a relationship with Showalter.
Showalter has a long association with Phillies infield coach Bobby Dickerson, who coached third base for the Orioles. He also worked with bench coach Rob Thomson in the Yankees’ minor league system.
Before Showalter hired Scott Coolbaugh to be the Orioles’ hitting coach, he attempted to convince longtime Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to come out of retirement and work in Baltimore. This year, Manuel served as Philadelphia’s hitting coach in the season’s final weeks.
Showalter would play well with the rabid fan base in Philadelphia, which hasn’t warmed up to Kapler. He’d also hold his own with the aggressive media.
Besides the openings in New York and San Diego, there are also vacancies with the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.
Showalter hasn’t been mentioned for any of those jobs. Joe Maddon, who was dismissed by the Cubs at the end of the season, is the heavy favorite to take over the Angels.
Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is said to be the leading candidate in Kansas City, although that vacancy might not be filled until a sale of the Royals is official.
At 63, Showalter still has a lot to give, and he’d love to manage a team that could play in the World Series, the biggest void in his career.
He also represents something that is generally missing in baseball, the big personality manager.
In recent years, Dusty Baker, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland and Joe Torre — managers with big personalities, significant accomplishments and who were media savvy — have departed.
Most of their replacements have been less quotable and haven’t become fan favorites.
Maddon and Detroit’s Ron Gardenhire are two of the few remaining personalities among managers. Some of the newer managers are certainly media friendly, including Showalter’s capable successor with the Orioles, Brandon Hyde.
Showalter’s possible return to managing would be good news. He improved each of the four teams he’s managed, and he always seemed to know what to say and how to handle himself, even during the Orioles’ 115-loss season.
Most of all, baseball would be better with Buck Showalter in it.