AL Central Notes: Maddon, White Sox, Hedges, Guardians, Twins

As the White Sox continue to hunt for a new manager, one prominent name yet to be involved in the mix is Joe Maddon.  The former Rays/Cubs/Angels skipper told the Cubs Talk podcast (on NBC Sports Chicago, hat tip to Tim Stebbins) that “I’ve not heard from [the White Sox] at all,” though Maddon would “of course…be interested” in chatting with the team.  Maddon has yet to be publicly linked to any of the open managerial vacancies this winter, though he has remained in the news due to a publicity tour for his upcoming book.

For a White Sox team that is reportedly hoping to replace Tony La Russa with another experienced manager, Maddon would seem like an intriguing candidate on paper, given both his long and successful track record and his past Chicago ties.  However, of the four candidates linked thus far to the Sox job, two (Ron Washington and Ozzie Guillen) have past experience managing in the majors, while the other two (Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol and Astros bench coach Joe Espada) would be first-time skippers at the MLB level.

More from around the AL Central…

  • There is mutual interest between the Guardians and Austin Hedges in a reunion, Guards president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes and other reporters.  Hedges is slated for free agency this winter, and was again one of the game’s stronger defensive catchers.  For a Guardians team that has prioritized glovework and game-calling behind the plate, this has been enough to ensure regular playing time for Hedges, despite his lack of production as a hitter.  Hedges has hit only .189/.247/.331 over 2001 career plate appearances with San Diego and Cleveland — his 54 wRC+ is the lowest of any player in baseball (minimum 2000 PA) since the start of the 2015 season.  The Guardians have prospect Bo Naylor knocking on the door and another veteran catcher in Luke Maile until arbitration control, though Maile is a non-tender candidate.  Hedges’ price tag shouldn’t be too prohibitive, which could allow Cleveland to create some competition in Spring Training and perhaps make Maile the odd man out even if he was tendered a contract.
  • The Twins are looking for a new head trainer this offseason, once again looking to fill a position that has been a revolving door for the organization.  As La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out, the Twins have already had three head trainers since 2016, and there has been plenty of other personnel turnover in the strength and conditioning departments.  While it’s common for teams to regularly undergo some staffing changes, the lack of consistency stands out in regards to the Twins, given that they were buried by injuries throughout the season.

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