5 Cleveland Guardians manager candidates if Terry Francona actually retires

Terry Francona strongly hinted this could be his last season with the Cleveland Guardians. Here's who could replace him if he actually retires.
Cleveland Guardians v Tampa Bay Rays
Cleveland Guardians v Tampa Bay Rays / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages
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Demarlo Hale - Guardians Bench Coach

It is always a good idea to look at an organization's internal options first when it comes to managerial openings. Existing coaches know how the team operates and is already familiar with the players. There is a risk that such a move can prevent needed changes from happening since it isn't a fresh set of eyes, but institutional memory does matter in a lot of cases. Sandy Alomar Jr. is a possibility given his longevity with Cleveland, but DeMarlo Hale gets the nod as the best option here.

Hale has a ton of experience with a number of organizations coaching at a high level including the Braves, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rangers, and Red Sox. His experience as a minor league manager would help him in dealing with younger players as they make it to the big league roster. On top of that, he has been Cleveland's go-to guy when Terry Francona has missed games already included an extended stint in 2021 as the Guardians' interim manager when Francona needed to take a leave of absence to attend to his health. When in doubt, always look at a team's bench coach first in these situations.

Walt Weiss - Braves Bench Coach

Weiss is an interesting option as he brings some old school chops while also coming from a Braves organization that has done very well by marrying old school know-how and advanced data into winning baseball games. He also has the added benefit of having actual managerial experience under his belt and while his time with the Colorado Rockies from 2013-2016 didn’t go particularly well, Colorado is a place where hopes and dreams go to die so we won’t hold that against him too much.

The question ultimately is whether or not Weiss would even be interested. He has been connected to recent managerial openings including the Marlins, but he declined a request for an interview. It is possible that his experience in Colorado soured him on managing altogether or that he is very content in Atlanta and would only leave for a really prime situation which, to be blunt, may not be the case in Cleveland. It is worth noting that Braves manager Brian Snitker is not a young man and if he were to retire in the next few years, Weiss could be their next manager in waiting.

George Lombard - Tigers Bench Coach

The former Dodgers first base coach and current Tigers bench coach George Lombard has some things going for him. He would be coming from an analytics-forward team so he knows how that process works, but is also a former player and is very adept at coaching young guys particularly when it comes to playing in the outfield and running the bases. It is also nice that it seems like he is detail oriented which should help players continue to make micro improvements and adjustments over the course of a season.

Lombard is a known commodity around baseball and once we get to the offseason, it is highly likely that the teams with managerial vacancies are going to come knocking given that he is a youngish guy that is already highly regarded. He already interviewed for the Tigers’ manager opening that ultimately went to AJ Hinch, so he clearly has aspirations of being a skipper, but the competition for his services may be fierce.