In a mild surprise, the Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to name former San Diego Padres bench coach Dave Roberts as their next manager.
The team has yet to make an official announcement, but the one-time Dodgers outfielder is expected to join the club on a three-year contract.
Roberts was a finalist with Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler, who was viewed as the early favorite given his long history with team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
Given that connection, Dodgers ownership reportedly had some concern Kapler getting hired would be viewed by players as too much of an extension of the front office.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, Dodgers players expressed their support for Roberts’ hiring:
Several #Dodgers veterans recently conveyed to management that they wanted Dave Roberts to be manager once he reached the final stage.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 23, 2015
As Friedman and the Dodgers front office worked toward trimming the list of candidates, general manager Farhan Zaidi said the finalists likely would meet with team owners.
While the decision was ultimately Friedman’s, Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter met with Roberts over the weekend, via co-host of Dodger Talk David Vassegh:
This was Andrew Friedman's decision, but Dodgers Owner/Chairman,Mark Walter did meet with Dave Roberts over the weekend. #Dodgers
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) November 23, 2015
Neither Kapler nor Roberts have managerial experience in the Majors, though Roberts spent the last two seasons as Padres bench coach and prior to that spent three seasons as first base coach for San Diego.
Both Friedman and Zaidi stated at the outset of their search experience, or lack thereof, would not be a deterrent. Their focus was instead on finding a manager with strong leadership skills.
After getting their manager in place, the Dodgers will then be able to shift their focus toward free agency and filling out their coaching staff.
Davey Lopes is now first base coach with the Washington Nationals, and Ron Roenicke is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s third base coach. Former Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach is expected to join Don Mattingly’s Miami Marlins staff under the same capacity.