MINNEAPOLIS -- In a surprise move, the Twins will have a new manager in 2019, as Hall of Famer Paul Molitor has been offered a new role in a baseball operations capacity. Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine held a press conference at Target Field
MINNEAPOLIS -- In a surprise move, the Twins will have a new manager in 2019, as Hall of Famer Paul Molitor has been offered a new role in a baseball operations capacity. Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine held a press conference at Target Field on Tuesday to make the announcement.
Molitor, the American League Manager of the Year in 2017, oversaw a disappointing season with the Twins, who fell out of contention by early July and were sellers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Minnesota finished with a 78-84 record and failed to build on its surprise run to the AL Wild Card Game in '17. Twins owner Jim Pohlad was presented with the decision on Thursday, and Molitor was informed Tuesday morning after meeting with Falvey and Levine.
"Today certainly was a difficult decision, a complex decision, but something we feel is in the best long-term interests of this club right now," Falvey said. "At this moment in time, we felt this was the move for this baseball team, both in the short-term here and as we build for the long-term future. When we made this decision, it wasn't just about wins and losses. Right now, at this moment, it was about where our club is for the present and the future."
Molitor, 62, ends his managerial career with the Twins with a 305-343 record in four years. He finished third in the balloting for AL Manager of the Year in his first season in '15, when the Twins went 83-79, but he finished with 103 losses in '16. After the '17 season, Molitor signed a three-year extension to remain manager, which is why this move was unexpected and even caught Molitor by surprise. Molitor is owed roughly $3.25 million over the next two years.
"Paul Molitor means so much, not just to the Minnesota Twins, but the state of Minnesota," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "He's an icon here. This decision was one that we wrestled with, but the recommendation was brought forward, and was accepted."
The decision allows Falvey and Levine to choose their own manager, as they inherited Molitor when taking over before last season. They're likely to hire a manager well-versed in analytics. There's no timeframe for when they'll make a decision; it could come after the conclusion of the World Series, with several potential candidates serving as coaches on postseason clubs.
Early contenders include Indians bench coach Brad Mills, Indians Minor League defensive coach John McDonald, Rangers coach Jayce Tingler and Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde. Falvey knows Mills and McDonald from his time with Cleveland, while Levine worked with Tingler in Texas. But Levine was quick to point out the Twins don't have one specific candidate in mind and haven't hired from the Indians or Rangers before. They also must compete with the Rangers, Angels, Reds and Blue Jays, who are also replacing their managers this offseason.
"Point of fact, Derek hasn't brought a single person over from Cleveland nor have I the Texas Rangers," Levine said. "In reality, the lion's share of the people we've brought in were people we didn't have a previous relationship with. I think we're planning on approaching this post in the same regard, where we're hopeful we can be as thorough as we can to get the absolute best candidates to walk through this door. This would be a very quick process if we had a specific person in mind. We do not."
Molitor, a St. Paul native, finished his Hall of Fame playing career with the Twins from 1996-98, ending his career with 3,319 hits in 21 seasons. He's served in a variety of roles for the club, including as bench coach and as a roving Minor League instructor. The Twins are hopeful he remains in the organization, but given that he expected to return as manager next year, he could decide to move on entirely.
"I was able to spend some time with Paul this morning, along with Jim, and just to express to him how much we love him, and the impact that he can continue to have," St. Peter said. "I know he appreciated the opportunity to stay involved. We're respectful of Paul, and I think he's gonna consider it. I think he takes the offer very seriously, but I also expect that he will take some time, as he should so he can weigh what he wants to do going forward."
It's also unclear how many coaches the Twins will retain next season. Levine and Falvey met individually with each coach on Tuesday, but didn't announce any changes. Much of the coaching staff was hired by Falvey and Levine; they only inherited third-base coach Gene Glynn, bullpen coach Eddie Guardado and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez.
"We'll work through this individually with each person," Falvey said. "Some are under contract, some are not. If they were to intend to pursue specific opportunities elsewhere, we feel it would only be right to allow them to do so. We'll handle each staff member on its own."
The Twins, however, did announce that strength and conditioning coach Perry Castellano and his assistant Erik Beiser were dismissed. Additionally, Triple-A hitting coach Chad Allen, Triple-A strength coach Ryan Grose, Double-A pitching coach Ivan Arteaga, Double-A strength coach Phil Hartt, Double-A trainer Alan Rail, Class A Advanced pitching coach Henry Bonilla and Dominican Republic hitting coach Asdrubal Estrada were let go.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.