The Braves just announced that they have declined to pick up 2017 contract option on pitching coach Roger McDowell’s contract. McDowell has been in his position for the past 11 seasons.
While this has obvious implications for McDowell and for the future instruction of Braves pitchers, it may likewise be a bit of foreshadowing in the Braves managerial search. When the season ended, interim manager Brian Snitker was thought to be the favorite to retain his post for the 2017 season. In the past several days, however, former Padres manager Bud Black has emerged as a possible replacement, with some saying he is the favorite.
Black, of course, was the Angels’ pitching coach under Mike Scioscia and, even when managing the Padres, took the lead with San Diego’s pitching staff. Could it be that Black told the Braves that, if he took the job, he’d like to put his own man in the pitching coach position? Could letting McDowell go be a sign that the Braves are, in fact, going to go with Black over Snitker?
The Braves tend to follow Major League Baseball’s rules of postseason decorum pretty closely. Those rules counsel against making big moves like managerial hirings on days when there is playoff action. At the same time, it’s seen as a courtesy to let coaches who will not be back the next year know as soon as possible to they can have the best chance to latch on someplace else in the coming year. A Bud Black hire, therefore, might very well look like what we’re seeing in Atlanta right now.
We’ll know soon.