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Hudgens named Blue Jays' bench coach

Former Astros hitting coach brings decades of experience to Toronto
Toronto Blue Jays @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Charlie Montoyo has found his top assistant, as the Blue Jays officially tabbed Dave Hudgens to be their bench coach on Wednesday night.

Hudgens spent the last four seasons as the Astros' hitting coach. He won a World Series ring with Houston in 2017 and previously spent time as a hitting coach for the Mets and Athletics.

TORONTO -- Charlie Montoyo has found his top assistant, as the Blue Jays officially tabbed Dave Hudgens to be their bench coach on Wednesday night.

Hudgens spent the last four seasons as the Astros' hitting coach. He won a World Series ring with Houston in 2017 and previously spent time as a hitting coach for the Mets and Athletics.

The 61-year-old Hudgens takes over for DeMarlo Hale, who had been the Blue Jays' bench coach under John Gibbons since 2013. Hale has been offered another position within the organization, but the club is giving him time to consider other opportunities.

"[Hudgens] is a consummate learner, teacher," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told a group of reporters at the General Managers Meetings in California. "Extremely well respected by his peers. Incredible integrity. His experiences across player development and Major League coaching are exactly what we were looking for."

Hudgens joins a Blue Jays staff that is also expected to include pitching coach Pete Walker, bullpen coach Dane Johnson and third-base coach Luis Rivera. Toronto previously announced it decided to part ways with first-base coach Tim Leiper and hitting coach Brook Jacoby. Both jobs remain open.

In Hudgens, Toronto has hired a former first baseman who began his managerial career in 1985. Hudgens' resume also includes time as a roving hitting instructor for Houston, director of player development for Oakland and field coordinator in Cleveland. The native of California spent five years managing in the Venezuelan Winter League from 2009-14.

It's believed that one of the things that appealed to the Blue Jays was Hudgens' involvement in what is considered Houston's cutting-edge technology and approach to hitting. He will bring some of the expertise over to Toronto as the Blue Jays continue to look for ways to incorporate analytics and different approaches with video into their daily routines.

Hudgens will now provide input on the Blue Jays' search for a hitting coach, while the club awaits word on Hale's next steps.

"I've talked to DeMarlo, I would love to keep him in the organization," Atkins said. "He is going to consider what his alternatives are, and we are having ongoing discussions about that."

Closing in on a deal

Atkins appeared to hint during his media availability at the GM Meetings on Wednesday that the Blue Jays might be closing in on their first acquisition of the offseason. He remained vague on the details, but suggested some kind of deal might get done within the next week.

It wasn't immediately clear what type of deal Atkins was referring to, but it's well known that the Blue Jays are in the market for pitching. Toronto has needs in the bullpen and in the starting rotation, while also possessing a couple of excess pieces around the infield that could be shopped.

"We had several discussions that I feel -- we're not going to make a decision tonight on a trade or an acquisition -- but certainly things are teed up that a decision could be made in a week, or days," Atkins said.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays