SAN DIEGO -- The Padres entered the offseason in need of a manager who could open their contention window, a manager who could get the most out of the team's top prospects and its proven stars.
In the eyes of general manager A.J. Preller, Jayce Tingler is that guy.
On Monday, the Padres announced the hiring of Tingler to a three-year contract as the 21st manager of the club. Tingler replaced Andy Green, who was let go by the club in mid-September after four seasons in which he went 274-366.
“Jayce has extensive experience in virtually every aspect of coaching, player development and baseball operations, and our entire group believes that he’s the right person to lead our talented roster,” Preller said in a statement. “His multifaceted skill set, combined with his ability to develop talent and help players reach their potential at the Major League level, were key factors in his selection as our manager. We are excited for Jayce to build upon the foundation we’ve laid in San Diego as we set our sights on October baseball.”
Tingler, 38, was a Minor League Rule 5 Draft selection by Preller himself in 2005, when Preller was working for the Rangers. Tingler moved into coaching two years later for the Rangers' Dominican Summer League team. Since then, Tingler held a number of positions, including Minor League field coordinator, assistant general manager and interim bench coach. He was most recently Texas' Major League development coordinator.
Tingler has managerial experience in the Dominican Winter League, Dominican Summer League and Arizona Rookie League. Fluent in Spanish, Tingler had begun his offseason by managing Escogido in the Dominican Republic. His time there came to an end on Thursday.
The team's decision to hire Tingler is a risky one. He hasn't managed above rookie ball for a big league organization, and although he spent parts of four years on the Rangers’ Major League staff, he never played in the Majors. Tingler’s career as a center fielder spanned four seasons in the Blue Jays and Rangers organizations and peaked at Double-A before he transitioned to coaching.
Now, he'll be tasked with turning around a Padres team that finished 70-92 last season and slumped to the finish line with a number of underperforming stars, including Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer. There are obvious questions surrounding Tingler’s ability to command a big league clubhouse.
Clearly, the organization believes Tingler is up for the challenge. Team officials touted his diverse baseball background, noting his ability to blend player development seamlessly with analytics, and his ability to take over a room with an infectious personality.
Said one of Tingler's former co-workers in Texas: "He has a competitive energy you wanted to be around."
Said another: "He's a tremendous baseball guy and person, who can build relationships and connect with players of all backgrounds."
Preller has built a top-tier farm system but has yet to piece together a winning season in the big leagues. He has now tied his future as Padres GM to Tingler. Preller’s seat isn't exactly hot, but it’ll be scorching if Tingler doesn’t deliver.
Longtime Rangers manager Ron Washington was a top candidate for the Padres job as well. Former Angels manager Brad Ausmus and Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta also were in the mix. One Padres decision-maker noted that the club valued experienced candidates, given the importance of the hire. But clearly experience wasn't all-important.
That same Padres official cited the managers who reached the postseason this year, a majority of whom were first-timers when they were hired and have since developed into highly respected big league skippers.
"You've got to get a start somewhere," he said.
For Tingler, that start will come with the 2020 San Diego Padres, a young team with lots of upside but plenty of question marks to go along with it.