SAN DIEGO -- The Padres didn't need to look very far to fill the three vacancies on their 2019 coaching staff.
All three spots went to internal candidates, as the club announced its full coaching staff Wednesday. Rod Barajas, who spent the past three seasons as manager for Triple-A El Paso, is set to take over for Mark McGwire as bench coach. Assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington will move into the main hitting coach role in place of Matt Stairs. Former big league second baseman Damion Easley replaces Josh Johnson as the team's infielders coach.
None of the three hires qualifies as a surprise. Barajas was widely expected to take over as bench coach when McGwire stepped down earlier this month to spend more time with his family.
Barajas has spent five years in the organization, including the last three with El Paso. He led the Chihuahuas to three straight division titles and the 2016 Pacific Coast League championship. It's unclear who will fill that vacancy.
On a young -- and mostly homegrown -- Padres team, the club believes Barajas will fit right in, having already worked with many of the key contributors. Perhaps most importantly, Barajas -- a catcher for 14 years in the big leagues -- is expected to work closely with two young backstops in Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia.
As for Washington, he served under Stairs last season, after spending the 2017 campaign as first-base coach. He's a respected presence in the clubhouse, but the transition might not be so simple. A formidable challenge awaits. There are few jobs in baseball with a higher turnover rate than hitting coach in San Diego.
The Padres have cycled through nine in their 15 seasons at Petco Park, and Washington will be the sixth in the past seven years. His first task is turning around an offense that has finished last in the Majors in on-base percentage in each of the last five seasons.
Unlike McGwire, who left of his own volition, Stairs and Johnson were let go by the Padres after the season.
Easley steps into Johnson's role having spent the past seven seasons as an instructor at the team's complex in Peoria, Ariz. The Padres had been hopeful to land Easley on their big league staff in the past, but the Arizona resident hadn't been willing to leave home until now.
Easley played 17 seasons in the big leagues with six teams -- including the 2006 D-backs, where he shared an infield with manager Andy Green. In addition to his role as infielders coach, Easley will work with Padres hitters alongside Washington.
The remainder of the coaching staff remains intact. Darren Balsley and Glenn Hoffman return as the two longest-tenured coaches on staff, with Balsley entering his 17th year as pitching coach and Hoffman entering his 14th year as the third-base coach. Bullpen coach Doug Bochtler (fourth year) and first-base coach Skip Schumaker (second year) are set to return to Green's staff as well.