As the Los Angeles Dodgers conduct their search for a new manager, one intriguing candidate to replace Don Mattingly is current Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez.
Martinez, 51, is a former outfielder who spent 16 seasons in the Majors and owns nearly a decade’s worth of coaching experience. He received his first opportunity in 2006 when the Tampa Bay Rays hired him as a Spring Training instructor and held that position until being promoted to bench coach in the 2007 offseason.
During his tenure as bench coach from 2008-14, Martinez was part of a staff that clinched four postseason appearances and one American League pennant. When former Rays general manager Andrew Friedman left the organization for Los Angeles to become new president of baseball operations last year, then-manager Joe Maddon opted out of his contract to pursue other opportunities as well.
It was widely speculated that Martinez would be his successor, as many players including Evan Longoria and potential Dodgers free agent target Ben Zobrist endorsed the idea, but the Rays chose to go in another direction, hiring Kevin Cash instead.
Shortly after, Martinez joined Maddon in Chicago and resumed his duties as bench coach for the 2015 season. The Cubs went on to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years but were later swept by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.
For the second consecutive offseason, talks of Martinez finally getting the opportunity to manage are heating up. Just three weeks ago Maddon gave Martinez his stamp of approval, via Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago:
“He’s absolutely ready [to manage]. Some team’s going to get lucky.”
And that’s where the Dodgers come in. During a press conference last week Friedman stated previous managerial experience wouldn’t be an overriding factor when determining possible candidates.
Add in his Tampa Bay connections with Martinez, and the Dodgers instantly become a viable destination for his services. Martinez said in September he’s prepared to take the next step in his professional career, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“For me, there’s no question that I’m ready. It’s just getting the right opportunity.”
The perfect opportunity for Martinez appears to be right in front of him. Not only does he have familiarity with the president of baseball operations, but he would be joining an organization with similar baseball philosophies than his previous two, in terms of how the clubs evaluate and value players.
Another underrated aspect is his ability to speak Spanish, which could only have a positive effect in the clubhouse and during in-game situations. While it hasn’t yet been made public if the Dodgers plan to interviewed Martinez, it is assumed he will get one in the near future.
No matter how the process plays out, it should be an interesting next couple of weeks for the Dodgers as they look to find the 32nd manager of their historic franchise’s history.