KANSAS CITY — The Royals are bringing in a fresh face to lead their major league club, officially hiring Rays backup coach Matt Quatraro as their manager on Sunday night.
Quatraro, the 18th full-time manager in Royals history, was hired after the club parted ways with Mike Matheny following the club’s 65-97 season. Sources told MLB.com that the long list of candidates has narrowed over the past three weeks — but Quatraro has been seen as the favorite.
Quatraro was JJ Picollo’s first key employee during his tenure as Executive Vice President and General Manager. In Kansas City, Quatraro will lead a young team full of potential. The 13 Royals are making their major league debuts in 2022, with 21 rookies making appearances this year, tied for third in franchise history behind 2004 (23) and 2002 (22).
With his minor league coaching experience, knowledge of how small-market clubs operate successfully, and the respect and admiration he garners from players, Quatraro examines all options for the Royals.
Quatraro, who has signed a three-year deal with the Royals that includes a 2026 option, will be formally introduced to the media Thursday morning at Kauffman Stadium, according to a source.
“We are very pleased to have Matt leading our club and core talent,” Piccolo said in the club’s statement announcing the hiring. “Matt has a wealth of experience throughout his career, which prepares him for this. He impressed us during our interview and has been embraced by the industry as a whole Respect. We look forward to working with Matt to bring winning baseball to our great fans.”
Quatraro, 48, has spent the past five seasons on Kevin Cash’s staff in Tampa Bay, including one as third base coach and four as backup coach. The Rays made the playoffs in four of the five years on Quatraro’s major league staff, including the 2020 World Series.
Quatraro also served as Cleveland’s assistant hitting coach from 2014-17, overlapping with Royals owner John Sherman’s minority stake there. Quatraro’s experience and success in both areas helped his Kansas City candidacy, as Sherman sees Tampa Bay and Cleveland as examples of small-market success.
Most importantly, Quatraro is respected and admired by players, coaches and executives across the industry. He has interviewed for several management job openings, including the Buccaneers and Giants after the 2019 season, the Tigers after 20, the A’s and Mets after 21 and the Marlins this offseason, and then they Hired Skip Schumaker – allowing the Royals to finalize their sacrifice.
“I am grateful to Mr. Sherman and the ownership group, JJ and management and everyone else in the Royals for this opportunity,” Quatraro said via the Royals. “I already knew the talent on the roster and how great the Kansas City fans were, and the interview process convinced me that the good news I heard about the team’s culture was real. I can’t wait to get started and have my family come Kansas City and be a part of this community.”
Among their new captains, the Royals are looking for someone to lead their young core — including Bobby Waite Jr., MJ Melendez, Vinnie Pasquintino and a slew of young pitchers — into the next A competitive window, Quatraro was highly praised for his communication with the players.
The Royals haven’t won a season since they won the World Series in 2015.
“JJ and his staff have designed and executed a rigorous process that demonstrates that Matt is the best leader for our club,” Sherman said in the Royals statement. “Matt is widely respected throughout the baseball community with a proven track record and tangible contributions to two organizations that have built a winning culture through creativity and innovation. We are delighted to welcome Matt, his wife Chris and son George Joining the Kansas City community with Leo.”
A former catcher, corner infielder, and outfielder, Quatraro played seven seasons with the Rays, finishing at the top of the Triple-A. His coaching career began with the Rays in 2004, serving in coaching and management roles throughout the minor leagues. He also served as the minor league batting coordinator for Tampa Bay for four years.
Having hired their manager, the Royals and Quatraro will now turn to filling the coaching staff. Their first priority was to hire a new pitching coach after Cal Eldred was fired on the final day of the season. Piccolo has already announced that the batting side will remain largely the same, with Alec Zumwalt as batting coach and Mike Tosal and Coney Drane as assistant batting coaches. Royals backup coach Pedro Griffor and third base coach Vance Wilson are open internal candidates for management, so it remains to be determined whether they will remain with the Royals in their roles.