In spite of the 2019 World Series continuing to take center stage for the next 24-48 hours, the Dodgers have still found a way to weasel themselves into the news, at least to a small degree.
Although front office boss Andrew Friedman hinted at the idea quite some time ago, it is believed that Los Angeles is finally close to officially inking a deal with Mark Prior to become pitching coach. The 39-year-old Prior will succeed Rick Honeycutt, who held the post for 14 years.
Before assuming his current role with the Dodgers, Prior spent three years with the Padres as the organization’s minor league pitching coordinator. As a player, over five big league seasons exclusively with the Cubs, the 2001 first-round draft choice made 106 starts, posting a 42-29 record with a 3.51 ERA.
In a recent interview with Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Honeycutt had nothing but praise to offer about Prior.
“Mark’s extremely smart, always observing, very conscientious, very prepared,” Honeycutt said. “He’s a good communicator with the pitchers. He always wanted to be at every bullpen session, always listening. The continuity I hope will be very streamlined going forward.”
Consequently, Friedman’s new contract to oversee the team for the foreseeable future could be piggy-backed with Prior’s deal. While there’s been a ton of fan criticism regarding the way he has built his rosters in recent seasons, Friedman’s new deal is an inevitable formality. Still, there hasn’t been any public mention of an exact contract length or dollar amount.
After reports surfaced two weeks ago about current bench coach Bob Geren garnering interest from former Los Angeles general manager Farhan Zaidi for the Giants’ vacant manager spot, new information indicates that Geren has indeed interviewed for the position.
Even before the regular season ended, Geren was linked to the managerial job in San Francisco, as Bruce Bochy had announced his retirement during 2019 spring training. Geren is believed to have strong ties to Zaidi—not just from their time together with the Dodgers—but also when the pair worked together in Oakland.
Additionally, folks in New York have been whispering Geren’s name as a potential candidate to replace departed Mets’ skipper Mickey Callaway. Geren was bench coach in New York from 2011 tthrough 2015, but apparently took the job in Los Angeles because of his family being rooted in Southern California.
The Dodgers are no strangers to seeing members of their coaching staff leaving for positions with rival teams. At the end of the 2018 season, third base coach Chris Woodward started an exodus that saw him accept the managerial spot for the Rangers. Within days, Turner Ward snagged the hitting coach job in Cincinnati. A short time later, Farhan Zaidi was named the new president of baseball operations for the Dodgers’ biggest NL West rival, the Giants.
Accordingly, there are reports of Zaidi having set up a second interview with former Philllies’ skipper Gabe Kapler.
The 44-year-old Kapler was let go by Philadelphia after completing just two years of a three-year managerial contract. Prior to arriving in Philadelphia, the Hollywood native was the Dodgers’ farm director from 2014-17.
Speaking of Philadelphia, the Phillies are expected to make a strong play for righty starter Gerrit Cole once the free agency period begins at the conclusion of the World Series. Just like any perennial front-runner in a new free agent class, there have been plenty of rumblings about a potential match with the Dodgers and Cole, although the righty’s future contract will probably be something well beyond Friedman’s comfort zone.
Coincidentally, the Phillies’ payroll has increased drastically recently, having climbed from around $95 million at the beginning of the 2018 season to upwards of $140 million in 2019.