The Kansas City Royals have hired former Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro as their new team manager.
So what can we expect from the 48-year-old in his first managerial role in Major League Baseball?
Quatraro replaced Mike Matheny as team manager following a 65-97 losing season, their sixth straight.
Quatraro was chosen by Royals general manager J.J Picollo, who took over as head of the club’s baseball operations after the firing of long-time front-office executive Dayton Moore.
The Royals interviewed their own bench coach Pedro Grifol (who was eventually hired to manage the Chicago White Sox), along with third base coach Vance Wilson and Triple-A Omaha manager Scott Thorman.
They also expressed interest in Los Angeles Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough and Boston Red Sox coach Will Venable.
One of the priorities that owner John Sherman had in overhauling the front office was that it will lean more on advanced analytics.
Quatraro excels in that regard. At Tampa Bay Rays, they are almost always guided by analytics for their decision making, allowing them to compete with a modest budget.
On announcing Quatraro as manager Picallo spoke to the official Royals website and said: “We are extremely delighted to have Matt leading our club and core of talent.
"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.
"I do think the managerial position has changed. You talk to players around the league, executives, there are things teams are doing that are pretty advanced. Our goal is to find out what those things are and implement them here."
Quatraro knows that experience is key in his new role and while he doesn’t have much of that in a managerial role, he can call on people to advise him who are current managers, such as Terry Francona of the Cleveland Guardians and a candidate for Manager of the Year in the American League.
Quatraro spoke to the official Kansas City Royals’ website in his introductory press conference: "I’ve been really fortunate to be around good coaches and people that have mentored me.
"As excited as I am to be named the manager, I’m even more excited to jump into the process. I’m extremely process-orientated and the process we all envisage here is building a championship environment that brings the Royals back to the top tier of baseball - and be that way year after year."
Quatraro also interviewed for the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox managerial positions, so he feels he is ready for a shot as the top dog in coaching.
The 48-year-old was the Rays’ bench coach under Kevin Cash from 2019-2022, when the Rays made four consecutive post-season appearances and was their third-base coach in 2018.
Before that he was the Cleveland Guardians Assistant hitting coach from 2014-2017 under Francona, who took Cleveland to the playoffs in 2016 (World Series) and 2017.
Quatraro is taking over a club who 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 are the first two players that Quatraro called after taking the job and his goal is to build a culture based on building relationships and collaborating.
Quatraro will lean on the experience of those two players, along with the young players he has on the roster, most of whom made their big league debuts last year.
The Rays have done this before, first of all under Joe Maddon, quickly followed up for the past eight seasons by Cash in charge.
Tampa Bay, a small market side with limited resources, are pretty much similar to Kansas City, so if the Royals can somehow emulate the success that the Rays have had, then Quatraro will have done an exceptional job.
One thing for certain though is that the Kansas City Royals have invested in Quatraro, but can he turn it around quickly? That is the big question.