The Tampa Bay Rays' search for Joe Maddon's replacement has concluded. According to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, Tampa has selected Kevin Cash to be their next manager. This will be Cash's first managerial job at any level of professional baseball. The former big league catcher had been a bullpen coach for the Cleveland Indians the past two seasons.
Cash will have big shoes to fill in Tampa, as Maddon turned the Rays around from a losing franchise to a club used to winning during his nine seasons at the helm. Maddon left Tampa for the Chicago Cubs this off-season after the departure of longtime GM Andrew Friedman, who took a job with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cash has earned praise around baseball for his leadership skills dating back to his playing days. He was considered a rising prospect for a managerial job, although it is a bit surprising to see him get this post before even serving as a bench coach for a team. The Rays cast their net wide when looking for a replacement for Maddon. They interviewed more than 10 candidates, and they ranged from candidates with previous experience managing at the big league level to current major league ballplayers to Hall of Fame shortstops.
Ultimately, the Rays whittled their list down to three candidates: Cash, Don Wakamatsu and Raul Ibanez. Ibanez, who has not yet retired from playing baseball, withdrew his name from consideration earlier this week. Wakamatsu was the Kansas City Royals' bench coach last season and previously managed the Seattle Mariners. He will presumably return to his role in Kansas City.
Cash is a Florida native and Florida State alum. Signed by Toronto as an undrafted free agent in 1999, he made his major league debut with the Jays in 2002. A good-fielding, but light-hitting catcher, Cash appeared in 246 games over his eight-year major league career. He hit .183 with 12 homers.
Cash retired from playing after the 2011 season and joined the Toronto front office as a scout. In 2013, he was hired by Indians' manager Terry Francona to be part of the Indians' big league coaching staff. Cash is the youngest manager in the big leagues. He will turn 37 on Saturday.