When the Cincinnati Reds announced earlier this month that they fired six-year manager Dusty Baker, one possible replacement immediately came to the minds of many fans: Bryan Price.
And Tuesday, those fans got their wish when the Reds announced their decision to hire Price as the team’s new manager, signing him to a three-year contract.
The decision prompted plenty of positive feedback within the organization almost immediately, with reliever Sam LeCure and second baseman Brandon Phillips voicing their support on Twitter and right fielder Jay Bruce and leftfielder Ryan Ludwick doing the same in interviews later that day.
Price was the only man the Reds formally talked to about the job, sitting through just one three-hour interview, which proved enough to general manager Walt Jocketty and owner Bob Castellini that they had found their manager.
The prospect of having Price as the club’s manager should excite fans as much as it does the team’s front office. He served four years as the team’s pitching coach, with the team making the playoffs in three of those seasons after not doing so in any of the previous 15 seasons.
A major reason for those playoff seasons has been pitching.
In the last two seasons, Price’s pitching staff has developed into one of the best in baseball, a big reason why his pitchers have been so vocal in their support of his promotion.
Price can be dealt a good deal of responsibility in turning around the career of starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who has gone from an erratic prospect to a potential ace with two career no-hitters under Price’s leadership. The same can be said in part for Mat Latos, who came to the Reds in 2012 as a bit of wild card and has since settled in as one of the National League’s most consistently lethal pitchers.
The hiring of Price could also mean that fans finally get a look at Aroldis Chapman as a starter rather than a reliever. Price was the leader in the campaign to get Chapman into the rotation the last two seasons, each time getting overruled by Baker.
Now that Price is calling shots, there is a good chance that Chapman gets a solid look in the rotation. The question of whether he thrives in the starting role the way he did as a closer will be answered later, but the important thing for many is just a chance to see what could happen.
But the true test of Price’s chops as a manager will be his ability to turn around the team’s inconsistent lineup, which finished eighth in the National League in batting average and seventh in home runs despite playing in the hitters’ paradise that is Great American Ball Park.