Royals welcome new skipper Quatraro

November 3rd, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- On Oct. 20, Matt Quatraro sat down inside Kauffman Stadium for what would be the first of two day-long interview sessions for the Royals’ managerial vacancy.

After nearly seven hours of conversation and questions, Quatraro had blown the Royals away with his personality and knowledge of the game. The second interview took place on Oct. 26 and gave the same feeling, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending with dinner with Royals CEO and chairman John Sherman.

Two weeks after that first interview, Quatraro was introduced as the 18th manager in franchise history at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday morning.

Replacing Mike Matheny, Quatraro will step into the first Major League managerial position of his career after 19 years as a coach and instructor in baseball, including the last four seasons as the Rays' bench coach.

“Over the last six weeks, we’ve talked a lot about organizational change, development, adapting, process improvement,” Sherman said Thursday. “… When we announced this deal, I traded texts with Matt congratulating him, and he thanked me for the confidence that we were showing in him.

“I would turn that around, Matt, and say thank you for the confidence you’re showing in the Kansas City Royals. We were interviewing Matt, but he was also interviewing us. And when we selected him, he selected us.”

Executive vice president and general manager J.J. Picollo led the search and assembled a team of six officials to help with the hiring process. Debriefing after each wave of interviews, everyone felt similar: Quatraro impressed the Royals with his humility and attentive disposition.

“You feel a partnership,” Picollo said. “When it clicks, it clicks. He felt it, and we felt it. … It was unanimous that Matt gave you that feeling of comfort.”

Quatraro, who also interviewed for the Marlins and White Sox openings, noted the partnership he felt in Kansas City.

“What a tremendous honor just to be named the manager of the Royals,” Quatraro said. “It’s a culmination of the process, but it’s also just the beginning of our partnership together and what we expect to be great things going forward.”

The Royals narrowed their extensive candidate list down to seven for interviews, three of which were internal and all of whom would have been first-year managers in the Major Leagues. Kansas City identified a personality and leadership type it thought would mesh well with its young club and the need for a manager willing to collaborate across all departments.

Picollo said it was important for the Royals to find someone who had sat next to successful MLB managers.

And it became clear early on that Kansas City was looking for an outside hire.

“It kind of pains me to say that, because we’ve been very intentional about hiring people internally,” Picollo said. “… But after we got through that initial round, able to talk to our committee of people about what we needed, we felt like what we needed at this time was to get a little bit of outside influence. Fresh thoughts. And challenge us professionally.”

Quatraro checked every box.

The 48-year-old was the Rays' bench coach under manager Kevin Cash from 2019-22, when the Rays made four consecutive postseason appearances, and was their third-base coach in ‘18. Before that, he was the assistant hitting coach for the Guardians from 2014-17 under Terry Francona, who took Cleveland to the playoffs in 2016 and '17.

“I think to be an exceptional Major League manager, you have to have a skill set that connects with a lot of different people, both players and staff alike, and is suited for different parts of the competitive cycle,” Rays president of baseball operations Erick Neander said. “And Q, his talents and his skills are as wide-ranging as you could find. He's as dependable and as trustworthy as they come, and he's adaptable to just about any situation that arises.”

The son of two teachers, Quatraro grew up outside of Albany, N.Y., and spent parts of seven seasons in the Minors with the Rays (1996-2002) as a catcher. He topped out at Triple-A but always gravitated toward the coaches and managers, making it clear that coaching was the next step.

After coaching for two seasons in the Rays’ farm system, their farm director at the time, Cam Bonifay, told Quatraro that managing would suit him. Quatraro managed in the Minors before taking over as the Rays’ Minor League hitting coordinator from 2010-13.

“My parents were instrumental in the, ‘Don’t ride the roller-coaster’ thinking,” Quatraro said. “Do the best you can, prepare yourself, work hard, and then the results are what they are. If you studied enough for your test, and you get a good grade, then you got a good grade. If you know you didn’t do the work, then don’t expect the good grade.”

That calm demeanor came through in Quatraro’s interviews with the Royals, giving Picollo and his assistants confidence he can not only handle in-game pressure but also a clubhouse filled with veterans, young players and differing opinions of the coaching and support staff.

“Everyone gets a voice,” Quatraro said. “There’s a ton of information to start, and it works its way to the field. Those processes to get that information and distill it down to the players is the process we’re going to work off of so it can be clearly communicated to them.”

Quatraro is taking over a club that lost 97 games in 2022. The Royals will be seeking significant improvement with their pitching development as well as growth from their young hitters. Salvador Perez and Bobby Witt Jr. were the first two players Quatraro called after taking the job, and his goal is to build a culture based on everything he mentioned Thursday.

“Are we walking the walk of what we’re talking about right now? Are we all collaborating? Is the back and forth there?” Quatraro said. “I think that’s where we're going to start the process of building those relationships and collaboration.”