Jul 18, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin (6) sits in the dugout before the game against the Cleveland Indians at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Following a season that started out highly promising and ended under .500, the San Diego Padres made a big hire for their next manager on Thursday. About as big as you can get.

Bob Melvin — who’s widely regarded as one of the best in his field and had managed the Oakland Athletics since 2011 with success amid reduced payrolls, an unpopular home stadium and constant talk of the franchise possibly moving out of the area — is heading to San Diego, according to multiple reports.

The hire isn't quite like luring Bruce Bochy from retirement, a move that would have given the Padres a huge positive buzz in the wake of their excruciating finish to the 2021 season. And it's not as provocative as bringing in Ozzie Guillen, who grew up in the Padres system and would have been fun as heck and perhaps what San Diego needed. But there’s no denying the Padres got the best person available.

What makes Melvin so great? More than the won-loss record, it's the confidence he inspires, the comfort he provides and the forthright communication he uses to keep players informed of what's happening and where they stand.

Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who named Melvin as one of the reasons that inspired him to come back so quickly from facial fractures sustained from a line drive in August, wrote his on Twitter about playing for him:

"As Dr. Seuss says … Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. 10+ years Oakland was able to call Bob Melvin their manager. He’s truly the best manager in the sport. Be grateful. I sure as hell am.”

It's the second big news made by the Padres in the past two days. On Wednesday, they announced Ruben Niebla as their new pitching coach. Niebla doesn't have a major-league track record like Melvin, but his reputation is similar around baseball for being one of the best developers of pitchers in any MLB organization.

It does seem backward for a team to name a new pitching coach before a new manager, but these are different times in Major League Baseball. And there's every reason to think Melvin was OK with it. The hires seem like back-to-back home runs. If the Padres win, it won't matter which was first.

In the coming days, the Padres likely will finalize Melvin's arrival with a three-year contract after the Athletics let him out of his deal in Oakland to interview with San Diego. Melvin's A’s teams have gone 854-764, finished in first place three times and made the playoffs six times. Overall, Melvin, who turned 60 on Thursday, has managed for 18 seasons, starting in 2003 with the Seattle Mariners and continuing in 2005 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Padres won't send any compensation to the Athletics, which probably is a nod by Oakland ownership to let Melvin leave out of respect and gratitude. It's also possible the A's don't want additional assets at the moment.

Coming off two seasons of particularly poor attendance at the Coliseum, the A's probably will be in payroll reduction mode while they continue trying to make a new ballpark deal somewhere — either in the East Bay or in Las Vegas.

One issue with the payroll: Nearly half of the A’s roster is eligible for salary arbitration, including many widely familiar names — starting pitchers Bassitt, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas; corner sluggers Matt Olson and Matt Chapman; outfielders Ramon Laureano and Chad Pinder; second baseman Tony Kemp; and key reliever Lou Trivino. It's possible that Melvin wasn't crazy about how owner John Fisher planned on resolving those contracts.

Melvin won't have to start over in San Diego, but he will have to help get the Padres from Point "B" to Point "C," as in championship. With established stars like Manny Machado and Fernando Tatís on offense, arms like Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove and what was reputed to be a deep bullpen, the Padres expected to make the playoffs again in 2021 coming off their postseason appearance in the pandemic-shortened season of 2020.

Instead, after starting 67-49, they unraveled in the final third of the season, as injuries mounted on the pitching staff and diminished the effectiveness of Tatís and the front office replaced pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Manager Jayce Tingler couldn't fix it all.

Even considering the issues that need to be addressed at the front-office level by general manager A.J. Preller if the Padres are to improve, Melvin will have more resources and fewer restrictions in San Diego than he did with Oakland. He is a three-time American League Manager of the Year recipient who is well-liked and respected by virtually everyone who has played for him.

It's kind of a dream scenario. And if the Padres don’t win, it won’t be because of the manager.

Featured Podcast

See all