The Union Democrat
‘A lot of uncertainty’
A’s GM maps out blueprint to hire manager to replace Bob Melvin
The A’s aren’t in a rush to hire a successor to Bob Melvin, who left Oakland two weeks ago to become the Padres’ manager. On the first day of the general meetings in Carlsbad, A’s general manager David Forst said Monday the team will consider internal and external candidates, but the process could take a while as the team is dealing not only with its ballpark dilemma but baseball’s labor issues and the possibility of a lockout next month.
“I don’t think we have a timeline for it yet,” Forst said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there with the (collective bargaining agreement), with the ballpark situation. There’s a lot of variables. We don’t actually need a manager until February.”
The A’s have identified some internal options, including third-base coach Mark Kotsay, bench coach Ryan Christenson, hitting coach Darren Bush and Triple-a manager Fran Riordan.
Asked specifically about Kotsay and Christenson, Forst said, “Ryan more traditionally came through the minor leagues, managed at every level and won. Mark’s resumé, playing and non-playing, speaks for itself. He’s been a hitting coach, he’s been a bench coach, he’s been at third base, he’s spent a year as a quality-control coach, where actually he worked a lot with us in the front office. Since his playing days ended, he’s basically done everything he needed to prepare for that job.
“I think both those guys can be majorleague managers.”
As far as possible external options
— for example, Ron Washington, who previously coached in Oakland, managed in Texas and now coaches in Atlanta — Forst said “it’s not fair” to discuss outside candidates because the A’s haven’t yet asked teams for permission to speak with anyone.
In his first interview since Melvin exited, Forst provided insight on why the team let him out of his contract — his 2022 option was exercised in June — and why no compensation was received.
“In fairness to Bob, there was going to be an opportunity for a multi-year deal that he did not have at Oakland,” Forst said, referring to the Padres and Mets. “We thought it was only right to let him to pursue that.
“It ended up being a good fit. He had great years in Oakland. I don’t think there’s any doubt we loved working with him.”
The A’s did not request compensation from the Padres out of respect for Melvin, according to Forst, who said, “You don’t want to complicate that process for Bob.” It was a similar story when Art Howe left the A’s while under contract to manage the Mets in 2003.
All seven A’s coaches are under contract for 2022, having signed before Melvin left. Forst said if any wishes to go elsewhere, “we’ll have that conversation. ... I fully expect them all to be back.”
It has been speculated that the A’s will start a rebuilding movement after allowing Melvin to depart and that their top young players, including Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas, could become trade bait.
Forst said the game plan won’t be finalized until he and vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane hear from A’s owner John Fisher on future payroll plans.
“Everybody clearly drew that line from the time Bob left,” Forst said. “I think right now we’re in the middle of those conversations with John. We don’t have exact direction yet. But you look at our history, and we have three- or four-year runs and recognize where we are makes it necessary to step back. But we have not gotten to that point yet with ownership.”
The A’s made the playoffs three straight seasons from 2012 to 2014, then missed the playoffs the next three years but rallied for three straight playoff appearances through 2020. This year they finished 86-76, nine games behind the divisionwinning Astros.
“Look,” Forst said, “what we’re always hoping for is a ballpark somewhere at the end of this plan and that we can shoot for that. We’ve made some really good progress on that in both places (Oakland and Las Vegas) in the last six months. Until that plan is really there, it’s hard to time everything out.”
Has Forst ever dreamed of the A’s playing in a new stadium?
“Only for 22 years,” he said with a laugh. “I just finished my 22nd season. My interview with Billy was in ‘99. I asked him how’s the ballpark coming along.”
The answer then: “We’re getting close.”