Twins to refresh staff after reassignments

October 6th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's no secret that the Twins will need to find plenty of pitching help this offseason. And now, they'll also seek several coaches as part of their to-do list.

The Twins reassigned co-hitting coach Edgar Varela and Major League field coordinator Kevin Morgan to Minor League player development roles on Wednesday, adding vacancies to a coaching staff that was already entering the offseason shorthanded due to the retirement of Major League coach Bill Evers at the end of the 2021 season and the untimely passing of bench coach Mike Bell in March.

The club will have three primary roles to fill on the coaching staff before Spring Training begins in February: bench coach, hitting coach and Major League coach. At this time, the other members of the existing staff are expected to return.

"Both guys really expressed a strong desire to be a part of this organization and help us get better, and that was pretty clear through the course, particularly in the Kevin conversation, but I know Edgar expressed that as well yesterday with some of our staff," president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. "They're really happy to be a Twin, and they want to be a Twin, and they want to help us get better."

Falvey previously said that the club will consider both internal and external candidates for its openings. Evers' departure also factors into the Twins' search for a bench coach, considering first-time manager Rocco Baldelli leaned on Evers' experience throughout his tenure in Minnesota -- and particularly with the short staff in 2021.

Baldelli indicated that the Twins already have a preliminary list of candidates, spanning different skill sets and different levels of managing and bench coaching experience. Adding such experience to a coaching group that also features another first-time big league coach in pitching coach Wes Johnson could be a factor in that search -- but it's not a necessity, the manager said.

"It helps to have guys that have different approaches to different things," Baldelli said. "And I do think that experience is a big one. Could the right person potentially have less experience and may not be the most experienced? Absolutely. But that’s something that will be on my mind, I know that."

The ultimate hire will become Baldelli's fourth bench coach in as many seasons at the helm of the Twins -- though that instability hasn't necessarily been in their control.

"Having that general continuity, where the players know how they're going to be treated and know how things are going to go when they show up to the ballpark and that stable presence as a whole, I think is very helpful to the group, and that's what we strive for," Baldelli said.

Falvey also previously noted that the Twins could look to get creative with their staffing structure, pointing to San Francisco's unconventional crowd in the coaching room under GM Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler as an example of how the Twins could add to their crew beyond the mold of a traditional staffing structure.

Varela was hired to Baldelli's staff before the 2020 season as a replacement for hitting coach James Rowson, who was hired by the Marlins to serve as bench coach and offensive coordinator. Varela worked alongside longtime hitting coach Rudy Hernandez, who has been part of the Twins' staff since the 2015 season.

Minnesota's offense posted a 101 wRC+ -- almost exactly league-average -- during Varela's tenure on the coaching staff, while slugging .425 as a unit, the ninth-best in MLB. Baldelli noted that there could be an emphasis on tapping into the rapid development of more technical swing work around baseball with this new hire.

"The technical aspect of swing work and a lot of the other advancements that are going on in our game, and especially on the hitting side at a pretty rapid rate, that will be at least a strong consideration," Baldelli said.

Morgan was elevated from Minor League field coordinator to the newly created Major League field coordinator position at the end of March to help fill the gaps created by Bell's death from cancer.

Almost all of Morgan's instructional experience in more than two decades of professional baseball has come on the Minor League side, spanning stints with the Mets as assistant director of Minor League operations (1998-2000), director of Minor League operations (2001-05), infield coordinator (2006-15) and Minor League field coordinator (2016-19) before his arrival in the Twins' organization.

"Kevin's really excited about that role again," Falvey said. "He really enjoyed the chance to help impact our Major League club, but this was part of the design, so in some ways, this is kind of a return to form with some real, Major League connections and experiences that will help us going forward."