KANSAS CITY — The Royals are bringing a new face to lead their big league club, officially hiring Rays coach Matt Quatraro as manager on Sunday night.
Quatraro is the Royals’ 18th full-time manager in franchise history, the hire coming after the club parted ways with Mike Matheny after a 65-97 season. A long list of candidates has been whittled down over the past three weeks — but Quatraro has always been seen as the frontrunner, sources tell MLB.com.
Quatraro is the first key recruit in JJ Picollo’s tenure as executive vice president and general manager. In Kansas City, Quatraro will guide a young team full of potential. Thirteen Royals made their Major League debuts in 2022, and 21 rookies have appeared in games this year, tied for third most in franchise history behind 2004 (23) and 2002 (22).
With his minor league coaching experience, knowledge of small-market club success and the respect and admiration he garnered from players, Quatraro ticked all the boxes for the Royals.
Quatraro has signed a three-year contract with an option for 2026 with the Royals, according to a source, and he will be officially presented to the media on Thursday morning at Kauffman Stadium.
“We are extremely delighted to have Matt leading our club and our core talent,” Picollo said in the club’s statement announcing the hire. “Matt has great experiences throughout his career that have prepared him for this. He impressed us all during our interview process and is clearly respected throughout the industry. We look forward to working alongside Matt to deliver winning baseball to our great fans.”
Quatraro, 48, has spent the past five seasons on Kevin Cash’s Tampa Bay team, including one season as a third base coach and four as a bench coach. The Rays have reached the playoffs in four of Quatraro’s five years on their big league team, including a World Series appearance in 2020.
Quatraro also served as Cleveland’s assistant batting coach from 2014 to 2017, overlapping with the minority stake of Royals owner John Sherman. Quatraro’s experience and success at both has helped his Kansas City bid, as Sherman sees both Tampa Bay and Cleveland as role models for small-market success.
On top of all that, Quatraro has the respect and adoration of players, coaches and executives across the industry. He interviewed for several managerial openings, including with the Pirates and Giants after the 2019 season, the Tigers after 20, the A’s and Mets after 21 and the Marlins this offseason before signing Skip Schumaker – allowing the Royals to finalize offer them.
“I am grateful to Mr. Sherman and the ownership group, JJ and the front office and everyone else with the Royals for this opportunity,” Quatraro said through the Royals. “I already knew about the talent on the roster and how great Kansas City fans are, and the interview process convinced me that the great things I had heard about the culture of the organization were true. I can’t wait to get started and for my family to come to Kansas City and be a part of this community.
In their new skipper, the Royals are looking for someone to guide their young core – which includes Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, Vinnie Pasquantino and a host of young pitchers – through the next window of contention, and Quatraro is getting praise for his communication with the players.
The Royals haven’t had a winning season since 2015, when they won the World Series.
“JJ and his team designed and executed a rigorous process that found Matt to be our club’s best leader,” Sherman said in the Royals’ announcement. “Matt is widely respected throughout baseball with a proven track record and tangible contributions to two organizations that have built winning cultures through creativity and innovation. We are thrilled to welcome Matt, his wife Chris and sons George and Leo in the Kansas City community.”
A former catcher, corner fielder and outfielder, Quatraro played seven seasons in the Rays organization, finishing in Triple-A. His coaching career began with the Rays in 2004, with stints coaching and managing in the minor leagues. He also spent four years as the Minor League hitting coordinator for Tampa Bay.
Having hired their manager, the Royals and Quatraro will now turn to the coaching staff. Their priority is to hire a new pitching coach after Cal Eldred was fired on the last day of the season. Picollo has previously announced that the batting roster will largely remain the same, with Alec Zumwalt as batting coach and Mike Tosar and Keoni DeRenne as assistant batting coaches. Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol and third base coach Vance Wilson were inside candidates for the managerial opening, so whether they stay with the Royals in their roles is TBD.
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