Now that the Houston Astros have been eliminated from the playoffs, it’s possible the Blue Jays will be able to move forward with their managerial search, as Astros bench coach Joe Espada is believed to be a serious candidate.
At this point in the Blue Jays managerial search, the vast majority of the information that’s floating around is still unconfirmed.
That said, we did get a nearly completed list of who the Blue Jays have in their sights as the next bench boss in Toronto, at least according to industry sources cited by Sportnet’s Shi Davidhi. According to his article from earlier in the week, four of the final five candidates for the post are David Bell (Giants), Rocco Baldelli (Rays), Brandon Hyde (Cubs), and Joe Espada of the recently eliminated Houston Astros. The fifth candidate wasn’t named in Davidhi’s article, but if those four are in the final running then what took place on Thursday evening may have an effect on how quickly the decision is made.
The only member of the four who was still actively working on the 2018 was Espada, but the Astros were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in five games, with the final blow coming last night in Houston. With that, Espada is now free to focus on something other than trying to help get his team to the World Series, and that something may be a promotion with a new team in a new city.
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I don’t know this for certain, but I would assume that the Blue Jays have had limited access to Espada thus far, which makes total sense. The Astros wouldn’t want one of their employees spending his time and energy on making plans to leave them while they’re in the middle of a playoff race, and teams are pretty good about respecting that space from prospective hires working for another club.
Getting a job as a big league manager is a rare opportunity, and the Blue Jays know that the longer they take in making their decision that they run the risk of their top choice taking a job elsewhere. There are several other teams like the Twins, Reds, Rangers, Angels, and Orioles that will be looking for new skippers this offseason too, and rumours for example, are that Baldelli has impressed more than just the Blue Jays with his potential to be a big league manager, especially at such a young age, and it doesn’t sound he’s the only one with interest elsewhere.
It’s possible the Blue Jays could have been forced to make a decision before they were completely ready, but with Espada now being available to interview I would expect the process to move pretty quickly. Espada did confirm that he had an interview scheduled with the Blue Jays, but we don’t know for sure when that was, if it was agreed upon after the conclusion of the Astros season. It’s still possible that the rest of Davidhi’s list wasn’t 100% accurate, or that the unknown candidate is working for one of the Dodgers, Red Sox, or Brewers, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here either.
Maybe the Astros did even approve an interview before the season was over, but it’s not as if the Blue Jays could make any announcements if Espada was still actively employed for another team anyway, if he ends up being the successful candidate. Now that the Astros are out, I would expect things to move quickly, and that we’ll know who the next Blue Jays manager is going to be in the pretty near future whether it’s Espada or not.