Oakland A’s promote Kotsay to replace Melvin as manager. What does that mean for the team in 2022?

The Oakland A’s face an offseason full of uncertainty, but laid down one foundational brick on Monday.

The A’s have found their next manager from within the organization as Mark Kotsay is set to take over the job after Bob Melvin — the winningest manager in Oakland A’s history — who was released from his contract and left for the San Diego Padres manager spot earlier this offseason.

The organization has not yet announced the hire, which MLB Network’s Jon Heyman first reported and this organization confirmed. Kotsay was the Oakland third-base coach last year, his seventh on Melvin’s staff. Leaving the Padres’ hitting coach job in 2014, Kotsay joined Melvin’s staff as the bench coach in 2015 and moved to quality control coach in 2017 before taking on third base coach duties.

Kotsay has been cycled through a few new manager hiring seasons, interviewed for open managerial jobs with the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants in recent years.

His managerial and coaching skills translate from his strengths as a player with the A’s, Padres, Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, from 1997 to 2011. Kotsay was known as a smart player who could read the game well as an observer.

“Couldn’t have a better hire for A’s players, A’s front office and A’s fan base. this dude checks all the boxes,” former teammate Dallas Braden said in a video on Twitter. “Incredible competitor, outstanding preparation and motor that doesn’t quit. The dude wants to win each and every day. Each and every ballgame. That’s all you can ask for.”

The hire is one of few transactions the A’s can make this month as the league’s lockout continues. Teams cannot make any moves involving players after the owners imposed a lockout following the Dec. 1 expiration of the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association.

The former infielder played 17 seasons in the major leagues with seven different teams, including a stint from 2004-07 with the Athletics.

Though the A’s interviewed outside the organization, including Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Boston Red Sox bench coach Will Venable and Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, they also looked internally. A’s hitting coach Darren Bush and catchers coach Marcus Jensen were also interviewed for the job. With cost-conscious the organization looking to trim even more fat from its barest bones, fiscally, an internal hire made most sense.

What does the Kotsay hire mean for the organization’s direction? It could go either way.

The A’s entered the Dec. 1 MLB owners’ lockout indicating an overhaul could be on the horizon. When the 2021 season ended shy of a postseason berth, A’s VP of baseball operations Billy Beane couldn’t commit to keeping the A’s core intact in 2022 both because of payroll uncertainty and possibility of some “changes for the long term” roster vision. With core players hitting their more expensive arbitration years — including Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea — a tear down could be in order should ownership ask for a payroll crunch.

As a familiar face well versed in the A’s front office and coaching operations, Kotsay could be a guiding light for newcomers on a rebuilding team.

The Kotsay hire could also mean the A’s want to maintain some familiarity with most of the core they may just keep another year. That the 2022 team will look anything like the 2021 team seems a long shot given front office hints that we should expect a roster overhaul in Oakland. However there is no indication ownership has passed down a directive on the team’s financial direction for next season. The offseason freeze will keep that uncertainty suspended for, at least, another month.

Next year’s roster remains a mystery, but at least there is a skipper at the wheel to man this rudderless boat.

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