KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are bringing in a new face to lead their big league club, officially hiring Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro as their manager on Sunday night.
Quatraro is the Royals’ 18th full-time manager in franchise history, the hire coming after the club parted ways with Mike Matheny following a 65-97 season. A long list of candidates had been narrowed down over the past three weeks -- but Quatraro had always been viewed as the favorite, sources told MLB.com.
Quatraro is the first key hire of J.J. Picollo’s tenure as executive vice president and general manager. In Kansas City, Quatraro will guide a young team oozing with potential. Thirteen Royals made their Major League debuts in 2022, and 21 rookies appeared in games this year, tied for third-most in franchise history behind 2004 (23) and ’02 (22).
With his coaching experience throughout the Minor Leagues, knowledge of how successful small-market clubs are run and the respect and admiration he’s garnered from players, Quatraro checked all the boxes for the Royals.
Quatraro signed a three-year contract with an option for 2026 with the Royals, per a source, and he will be formally introduced to the media Thursday morning at Kauffman Stadium.
“We are extremely excited to have Matt leading our club and core of talent,” Picollo said in the club’s statement announcing the hire. “Matt has great experiences throughout his career that have prepared him for this. He thoroughly impressed us all during our interview process and is clearly respected across the industry. We are looking forward to working alongside Matt to bring winning baseball to our great fans."
Quatraro, 48, spent the last five seasons on Kevin Cash’s staff in Tampa Bay, including one season as the third-base coach and four as the bench coach. The Rays reached the postseason in four of Quatraro's five years on their big league staff, including a World Series appearance in 2020.
Quatraro also served as Cleveland’s assistant hitting coach from 2014-17, overlapping with Royals owner John Sherman’s minority stake there. Quatraro's experience and success in both helped his candidacy in Kansas City, as Sherman views both Tampa Bay and Cleveland as models for small-market success.
On top of all that, Quatraro has the respect and adoration of players, coaches and executives from around the industry. He has interviewed for several managerial openings, including with the Pirates and Giants after the 2019 season, the Tigers after ’20, the A’s and Mets after ’21 and the Marlins this offseason before they hired Skip Schumaker -- allowing the Royals to finalize their offer.
“I’m grateful to Mr. Sherman and the ownership group, J.J. and the front office and everyone else with the Royals for this opportunity,” Quatraro said through the Royals. “I already knew the talent on the roster and how great the fans in Kansas City are, and the interview process convinced me that the terrific things I’d heard about the organization’s culture are true. I can’t wait to get started, and for my family to get to Kansas City and be part of that community.”
In their new skipper, the Royals are looking for someone to shepherd their young core -- which includes Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, Vinnie Pasquantino and a slew of young pitchers -- to the next window of contention, and Quatraro receives high praise for his communication with players.
The Royals have not had a winning season since 2015, when they won the World Series.
"J.J. and his staff designed and executed a rigorous process that revealed Matt to be the best leader for our club," Sherman said in the Royals’ announcement. "Matt is widely respected throughout baseball with a proven record and tangible contributions in two organizations that built winning cultures through creativity and innovation. We are thrilled to welcome Matt, his wife Chris and sons George and Leo to the Kansas City community."
A former catcher, corner infielder and outfielder, Quatraro played seven seasons in the Rays' organization, topping out in Triple-A. His coaching career began with the Rays in 2004, with coaching and managerial stints throughout the Minor Leagues. He also spent four years as the Minor League hitting coordinator for Tampa Bay.
Having hired their manager, the Royals and Quatraro will now turn to filling out the coaching staff. Their priority is hiring a new pitching coach after Cal Eldred was let go on the final day of the season. Picollo has already announced that the hitting side will largely stay the same, with Alec Zumwalt as the hitting coach and Mike Tosar and Keoni DeRenne as assistant hitting coaches. Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol and third-base coach Vance Wilson were internal candidates for the managerial opening, so whether they stay with the Royals in their roles is to be determined.