While the Yankees have been shrouded with news regarding player acquisitions, they’ve quietly been looking for candidates to fill out their bench coach spot with the departure of Carlos Mendoza. Taking over the Mets’ managerial job, he had been with the Yankees for over a decade in various roles, and Aaron Boone will now need a new right-hand man in the dugout. When the Cubs made the shocking decision to fire David Ross and hire Craig Counsell, immediate rumors swirled about what Ross’ next job would be.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Yankees have spoken to David Ross about the bench coach role, but it seems he’ll be more interested in a managerial role than a bench coach one. If the Yankees aren’t able to convince Ross to take a bench coach role, what other candidates could they potentially look at?
What Other Directions Could the Yankees Take?
While David Ross is now viewed as a long shot to become the Yankees’ next bench coach, there is a trend that we’re beginning to notice in what they want for coaching hires. James Rowson is the frontrunner to become their hitting coach, and I believe his personality and experience as a former player are intangibles that the Yankees are searching for in a coach. Ross, who hit a dramatic home run in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, spent 14 years in the Majors, accumulating 22.5 fWAR and +50 Defensive Runs Saved behind the dish.
Ross had been not only the teammate of Anthony Rizzo, but also his manager from 2020-2021, and that former player experience could have been something that would’ve better connected him to the players. Other candidates mentioned by Ken Rosenthal are former manager Brad Ausmus, and former pitching coach Andrew Bailey, who both spent time in the Majors. Ausmus served as the Tigers manager from 2014-2017 and the Angels manager in 2019, and also spent time as a field executive with the Padres from 2011-2013, a special assistant role in 2018 with the Angels, and a bench coach role with the Athletics in 2022.
He’s since then been in the search for a front office position and for Andrew Bailey, he would take an instant replay coordinator job with the 2018 Angels and was a bullpen coach on the 2019 Angels before departing for San Francisco in 2020. Since then, he’s been the Giants’ pitching coach and the staff has been seventh in ERA (3.81) and first in FIP (3.72) since he’s taken over. Adding another extremely bright mind on the pitching side of things in a bench coach role would be an incredible addition, although it’s unclear what Bailey’s interest in the role is.
As for an internal option, Luis Rojas has always made sense for a bench coach role given his former experience in the Minor Leagues and previous role as the manager of the Mets from 2020-2021. He’s since then been the Yankees’ third base coach, and he’s been coaching since 2006 when he managed in the Dominican Summer League for the Washington Nationals. If the Yankees are going to make an internal hire, it seems like Rojas would be their most logical choice, but the blueprint for what they’re looking for has been set.
It’s clear that connecting with the players has become the team’s biggest priority off the field, and they’ll get more former players who can interpret and communicate data involved in their coaching staff.