Braves have not decided Snitker's future

September 22nd, 2017
Brian Snitker took over for Fredi Gonzalez as Braves manager in May 2016. (AP)Tami Chappell/AP

ATLANTA -- While the Braves have not yet committed to retaining Brian Snitker, the club's top executive expressed high praise for his current manager when asked about the possibility of the club entering the 2018 season with its third different manager in less than two full calendar years.

"Snit is one of the great gentlemen of baseball, one of the great and honored veterans of 40-plus years within one organization," Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk said. "He's the kind of guy to me, if you're ever going to build monuments of people, he'd be a guy. There's just nothing about his demeanor and the way he appreciates the game that I don't appreciate and value."

While Snitker is revered throughout the Braves' organization, which has employed him in various roles dating back to 1977, the fact remains his option for the 2018 season has not been exercised. There has been speculation his days are numbered, but McGuirk and other club executives have stressed a decision has not yet been made.

McGuirk will provide the ultimate approval regarding any decision, but this is a decision that will be significantly influenced by the input provided by president of baseball operations John Hart and general manager John Coppolella.

Hart's contract also expires at the end of this season, but McGuirk didn't blink as he made it clear he expects Hart will return. His response seemed to further weaken the already-dwindling speculation that Dayton Moore might leave the Royals to return to the Braves.

"All of these are decisions for after the season, and they are preliminary," McGuirk said. "You couldn't say anything definitively on anything because we won't make these decisions until after Oct. 1. I'm very close with both guys, and there really isn't anybody in baseball I trust more than John Hart."

The Snitker-Hart relationship was briefly strained when Hart entered the clubhouse and berated Snitker after the struggling Jim Johnson was used with the Braves holding a one-run lead in what turned into a loss to the Mariners on Aug. 23. But the two have interacted in a professional and cordial manner over the past couple weeks.

"The decision on the leadership of this organization is a complicated one and one that resides predominantly in baseball people," McGuirk said. "I get recommendations and usually acquiesce to them as we move forward. I have unbelievable faith in John Hart, and I know he sees Brian Snitker the same exact way. We talk about it all of the time."

Regardless of whether he is retained as the big league manager, Snitker would most likely hold a lofty position within the organization next year. He was highly revered and respected for the loyalty he had shown over the four decades that passed before replacing Fredi Gonzalez in the middle of last season, immediately accepting the challenging task of guiding the team through this portion of the rebuilding process.

If the Braves opt to go in a different direction by altering Snitker's role and possibly making a couple coaching staff changes, current third-base coach Ron Washington stands as the most likely candidate to become the next manager. He managed the Rangers from 2007-14, winning the American League pennant twice.

"This organization has been my life," Snitker said. "I've been here for a majority of my life with the Atlanta Braves. So, yeah, it would be hard for me to think about being somewhere else. …Yeah, I'd love to be here, and I want to be here. We'll see."