Paul Molitor fired as Twins manager

October 2, 2018

The Twins fired manager Paul Molitor, who will be offered a position in the team’s baseball operations department.

The team said in a news release that it would begin the search for a new manager both externally and internally.

Molitor issued a statement that read, in part: “I was informed today that the Twins will seek a new manager for the 2019 season and I fully respect that decision. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity they gave me to serve in the role as manager for these past four years. I’m going to consider their genuine offer to serve in a different capacity to positively impact the Twins from a different role.”

Molitor, 62, signed a three-year contract after last season, when he was the American League manager of the year after the Twins made the wild card game.

A Hall of Famer as a player, the St. Paul native took over as Twins manager in 2015. He was 305-343 in four seasons.

The team scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. Tuesday at Target Field.

After winning his 300th game last week, Molitor made it clear he wanted to return as manager.

“I don’t have any doubts about that,” he said.

After veteran Joe Mauer appeared to play in his final game for the Twins on Sunday, he was asked if Molitor’s fate would affect Mauer’s decision to return.

“l have the utmost respect for Paul,” Mauer said. “I really enjoy playing for him and just being around him. I hope he’s here for a long time, as long as he wants to be here. He’s great.

“It’s hard to describe my feelings toward him. He’s a great baseball guy, a great person, and I really enjoy playing for him. … Hopefully he’ll be back if he wants to be.”

Twins owner Twins owner Jim Pohlad, during an interview before the season ended, expressed his disappointment over the season but said he would listen to any recommendations made by Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine on personnel matters. He then was asked if he wanted Molitor to return next season.

“I have no idea what they are going to come with,” Pohlad said of the front office. “No matter if we win the World Series or have a disappointing season like this, they are going to come with recommendations. Some of those recommendations could be personnel changes, could be methodology changes. I don’t know, but I look forward to that.”

When Falvey and Levine were hired after the 2016 season, a year in which the Twins finished 59-103 and fired general manager Terry Ryan, Pohlad told them that Molitor would remain the manager for the 2017 season.

Falvey would not speculate last week on the future of Molitor and the coaching staff.

“Get to the end of the season,” Falvey said, “let the season end and meet and then start talking about what that looks like. But we’ll do that in a thoughtful manner.”

The Twins were 78-84 this season despite injuries and ineffectiveness from two players — third baseman Miguel Sano and center fielder Byron Buxton — who were expected to be cornerstones of the team. Shortstop Jorge Polanco started the season on an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, and 2016 All-Star pitcher Ervin Santana was unable to come back fully after finger surgery. Starting catcher Jason Castro was lost for the season because of knee surgery. And two starry offseason acquisitions, starting pitcher Lance Lynn and designated hitter Logan Morrison, who hit .186, also failed to deliver.

At the trade deadline, Falvey dumped Lynn, reliever Ryan Pressly, 2016 team MVP Brian Dozier and standout infielder Eduardo Escobar for prospects.

In their news release, the Twins said decisions on the coaching staff will be determined by the new manager in conjunction with Falvey and Levine.

Falvey and Levine played a major role in adding five coaches to the staff: Pitching coach Garvin Alston and bench coach Derek Shelton were in their first seasons, and hitting coach James Rowson and coaches Jeff Smith and Jeff Pickler were additions for the 2017 season. Gene Glynn has been third base coach, Rudy Hernandez assistant hitting coach and Eddie Guardado bullpen coach since Molitor’s first season.

Shelton managed the Twins during Hall of Fame weekend when Molitor went to Cooperstown for the induction of former Twins Jack Morris and Jim Thome.

Molitor, who attended Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul and the University of Minnesota, had a historic 21-season career as a player with the Brewers, Blue Jays and Twins, finishing with 3,319 career hits — 10th-most in major league history — and a world championship with Toronto in 1993. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.

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