Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward was hired as manager of the Texas Rangers on Saturday, six weeks after Jeff Banister was fired.
He received a three-year contract with a club option for 2022. He will be introduced at a news conference Monday.
Woodward inherits a team that went 67-95 and finished last in the AL West, with the focus turning to the development of younger players. Texas had its first consecutive losing seasons since 2005-08.
The hiring ended a process during which general manager Jon Daniels and the Rangers interviewed more than 10 candidates, including bench coach Don Wakamatsu after he served as interim coach the final 10 games of the season.
Woodward was interviewed this week after the Dodgers finished their second straight season in which they advanced to the World Series, losing both times. The last team before Los Angeles that appeared in consecutive World Series without winning the title was Texas in 2010 and 2011.
“We interviewed a number of strong candidates during an extensive interview process for our managerial role and believe we have found the right fit in Chris Woodward,” Daniels said in a statement released by the team. “We look forward to working with him and everyone on the baseball staff to develop and grow a culture that will lead to success for many years to come.”
Daniels has hired three managers in his 13 seasons as the Rangers GM, and all were first-time MLB managers. Texas won its only American League pennants during Ron Washington’s eight seasons before Banister won two AL West titles in his four seasons.
Two candidates Texas interviewed were hired last month as managers by other teams, David Bell in Cincinnati and Rocco Baldelli in Minnesota. The hiring of Woodward left the Baltimore Orioles, who fired Buck Showalter after the season, as the only MLB team with a managerial vacancy.
The 42-year-old Woodward spent the past three years on the staff of manager Dave Roberts, after working for Seattle the previous three years. He started his coaching career as minor league infield coordinator for the Mariners in 2013, then joined their big league staff later that year. He was Seattle’s infield coach in 2014 and the first base coach in 2015.
“Chris brings high energy, outstanding leadership and communication skills, a strong knowledge of the game and its evolving strategies, and great integrity — attributes that we feel are vital for our next manager,” Daniels said. “We believe these traits will resonate with our players, our staff, and our fans. He has also been a big part of a very successful stretch in Los Angeles.”
As a player, Woodward spent 12 seasons (1999-2011) with five teams — Toronto, the New York Mets, Seattle, Atlanta and Boston. He hit .239 with 33 home runs and 191 RBIs while playing every position except pitcher and catcher.
Woodward was teammates with Adrian Beltre for a short period during the 2009 season with the Mariners. Beltre, who has 3,166 career hits, just completed his 21st big league season and hasn’t said yet if he will return to play for the Rangers again next year.
When Beltre went on the disabled list during the 2009 season, Woodward started 13 games at third base in his place. Soon after Beltre’s return that August, Woodward was selected off waivers by the Boston Red Sox.
The Rangers went 87-75 in 2009 before their two World Series seasons, then lost in the AL’s first one-and-done wild-card game in 2012. They ended the 2013 regular season with a loss to Tampa Bay in a wild-card tiebreaker.
When Banister was fired Sept. 21 with 10 games left in this season, Daniels acknowledged that the decision wasn’t based on the record and said instead that it was time for a new voice in leadership. Banister was under contract through next season.
Woodward is a native of Covina, California, as is Michael Young, the Rangers career leader in hits and games played who is now a special assistant to the general manager. They are the same age but played at different high schools.
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