Former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has joined the Royals as special advisor for player development, the team announced Friday. The responsibilities covered by his new position will include partial oversight of baseball operations, including scouting and player development. Matheny was dismissed by the Cardinals in mid-July after leading the team to a 47-46 record through the first half of the season, at which point he was replaced by bench coach Mike Shildt.
The 48-year-old previously served as a special advisor to the Cardinals in 2008 and was officially promoted to manager just prior to the 2012 season. He guided the club to a cumulative 544-428 record through six consecutive winning seasons and four postseason runs, though they fell short of another championship title after losing out to the Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs from 2012-2014. While his midseason dismissal was startlingly abrupt, the writing had been on the wall for some time — not just because of the team’s poor record, lackluster effort on the field, and relative distance from a postseason berth, but because of some controversial tactics he had endorsed within the clubhouse, too.
Matheny won’t be stepping into as significant of a position within the Royals’ organization, but the prevailing assumption is that Kansas City could be eying him as a potential successor to longtime skipper Ned Yost, whose contract is currently scheduled to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season. The 64-year-old Yost brought the Royals to two World Series appearances over the course of his eight-year campaign, but hasn’t returned the team to the playoffs since their championship clincher in 2015 and is just coming off of a 104-loss season in 2018 — the worst the franchise had seen in 13 years.