Just ahead of Game 162, the Royals removed all the drama from their October. Ned Yost will return as manager for the 2019 season.
Despite protestations from the manager that he hadn’t thought about or discussed his future with the Royals, it was clear the two sides wouldn’t let this drag out beyond the final out of the regular season. The Royals wanted Yost back. Yost wanted to return. He’s already the sixth-highest paid manager in the game. His tenure with the team and accomplishments will keep him near the top of the managerial fiscal pyramid, so there was likely little haggling over salary. The negotiation took, Rustin Dodd of The Athletic reported, all of two minutes.
The pain of April and May eventually gave way to the promise of September. With the Royals playing close to .500 baseball over the season’s second half and with the necessary injection of youth once the veterans were shipped off, it wasn’t a surprise Yost found himself wanting another crack. He’s built teams before. It’s a process he enjoys. The Royals are still in the early part of their rebuild, but it’s not difficult to be enthused by what he saw over the season’s last couple of months.
Besides, knowing Yost the way we have come to know him over these years in Kansas City, it’s not his style to leave things undone. He came back for 2018 knowing his core would be scattered, but it wouldn’t be right to leave the cupboard bare for a new skipper. He returns for 2019 knowing positive steps have been made, but there is still plenty of work to be done. Should Yost decide to cede the reigns, he won’t do so until he’s convinced the club is firmly on the right path and his right successor is picked out.
For the Royals, the idea of bringing back Yost has always been the right move. Moore pointed to it in his comments and has mentioned it before: Continuity and stability counts. The lineup of the regular season finale featured just two players – Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar – who were regulars on the World Championship team. And with the baseball gods willing, Escobar won’t be back with the team next year. With an expected cut in payroll forthcoming, there won’t be a ton of moves to be made this winter when it comes to making additions to the roster. The 2019 Royals will probably look a lot like the version we saw this month. This group heads into the winter with the knowledge their leader will be back. The building, and hopefully the progress, will continue.
It turns out Yost is the right manager at the right time for these Royals.
While the sabermetricians and the old school baseball fans are the Jets and the Sharks of 21st century baseball, both fail spectacularly when it comes to assessing the impact of a manager. In-game management is just one skill; don’t overlook the intangibles. Yost is as good as they come at handling a clubhouse. He’s managed damn near every type of club imaginable, and usually done so with success.
There are the usual managerial peccadilloes that we have become used to over the years. Those aren’t going away. There will be odd lineups, questionable bullpen matchups, and bizarre in game strategies. But what goes on behind the scenes, off the field, it often more important. Yost is a player’s manager who has always commanded his clubhouse. Players enjoy a certain amount of freedom and respect Yost enough to rarely, if ever, to cross the line. And Yost’s respect across the game has only increased after the back to back pennants. Players like playing for Yost. They want to play for him. There’s currency in that.
Ultimately, that’s why Dayton Moore wants Yost back. The continuity is nice and all, but Yost, at least behind the scenes, is a great manager. Yes, great. He may not be around the next time the Royals reach the promised land of postseason baseball, but if everything goes according to plan, the next time a flag goes up beyond the left field fence, Yost will have played a part in that team’s foundation.