Cash hired as Rays manager

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Kevin Cash is the new manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The team announced the former Cleveland Indians bullpen coach as Joe Maddon’s replacement on Friday, selecting him over ex-Seattle Mariners manager and current Kansas City Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu.

Cash, who turns 37 on Saturday, has no previous managerial experience. The former big-league catcher, who appeared in 13 games with Tampa Bay in 2005, served as Cleveland’s bullpen coach for the past two seasons and becomes the youngest active manager in the majors.

Veteran outfielder Raul Ibanez, who is still an active player, was the third finalist for the job. He withdrew his name from consideration this week.

Maddon opted out of his contract with Rays on Oct. 24, later joining the Chicago Cubs as their new manager.

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Cash’s “energy and dynamic personality will fit seamlessly with our clubhouse.”

President of baseball operations Matt Silverman, who led the search, echoed that sentiment.

“Kevin is passionate, genuine and dedicated, and those attributes will resonate throughout our clubhouse,” Silverman said. “As a catcher, a scout and a coach, he has always been a student of the game, and his communication and tireless work will put our club in a position to win, night in and night out.”

Wakamatsu was the only candidate among the finalists with prior managerial experience at any level, having gone 127-147 in one-plus season as the Mariners’ skipper in 2009 and 2010.

Ibanez, 42, batted .167 with five homers and 26 RBIs in his 19th major league season and is still considered an active player appearing in 90 games with the Royals and Los Angeles Angels. He removed himself from consideration before a scheduled interview Thursday with Silverman, who’s had a busy first six weeks as Andrew Friedman’s successor as the Rays’ top baseball executive.

A Tampa native, Cash is not a stranger to the AL East after playing all but 20 games of an eight-year big league career with the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Rays.

Before joining the Indians in 2013, Cash spent one season as a major league advance scout for the Blue Jays.

Wakamatsu, 51, has spent 10 seasons as a bench coach with the Royals, Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. The Mariners went 85-77 in 2009, but was fired in August of the following season when Seattle stumbled to a 42-70 start.

Former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, one-time Indians manager Many Acta, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, San Francisco Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, Rays minor league manager Charlie Montoyo and ex-major league players Craig Counsell and Doug Glanville rounded out a list 10 initial candidates for the job.

Madden opted out of the final year of his contract after Friedman left the Rays for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Tampa Bay went 754-705 in nine seasons under Maddon, making the playoffs four of the past seven seasons, winning two AL East championship and the 2008 AL pennant – all while operating under the constraints of one of baseball’s lowest payrolls.

The Rays finished 77-85 this year, ending a stretch of six consecutive winning seasons. Maddon was under contract through 2015, but exercised an option to leave when talks on a new deal broke down.

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