HOUSTON — The Astros will introduce bench coach Joe Espada as their next manager during a news conference Monday morning at Minute Maid Park, a source told MLB.com on Sunday.
The Astros, who have not confirmed Espada’s promotion, have called a news conference for 11 a.m. CT Monday with general manager Dana Brown. Espada, who spent the last six years as a bench coach, will replace Dusty Baker, who retired last month following the Astros’ loss to the Rangers in the American League Championship Series.
Espada, 48, came to the Astros from the Yankees before the 2018 season to replace bench coach Alex Cora, who was hired to manage the Red Sox. Espada’s previous managerial experience includes the Puerto Rico Winter League. The lack of names linked to the Astros’ job vacancy indicates that Espada was likely the team’s top choice all along.
Espada’s hiring will be viewed positively in the clubhouse, where he is popular with staff and players and a strong communicator. He has interviewed for several managerial positions in recent years, including with the Marlins, Giants and White Sox.
Espada has worked with a pair of managers who won World Series titles in Houston (AJ Hinch and Baker) and will be tasked with maintaining the Astros’ place among the American League’s heavyweights. Houston has played in seven straight American League championships and has won six straight division titles over a full season, although they had to watch division rival Texas win the World Series this year.
The Astros will get most of their key players back from their 2023 team next year and should be prepared to compete for another pennant with some additions to the bullpen. Brown said adding some arms to the bullpen and finding a backup catcher for Yainer Diaz are his two biggest offseason goals.
Espada’s managerial prowess was on display in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Rangers last month. After Baker was thrown out in the eighth inning, the Astros rallied to win in the ninth when Espada sent pinch hitters Diaz and Jon Singleton to the plate, moves the team likely would not have made with Baker. Díaz singled and Singleton walked, setting up José Altuve to hit a game-winning home run.
Espada did not want to publicly take credit for the moves out of respect for Baker, who won 320 games in four seasons as Houston’s manager, including a World Series title in 2022. Espada now has his chance to leave his stamp on the coaching staff. , including the hiring of a bench coach. First base coach Omar López could be a candidate to become bench coach.
Espada, a native of Puerto Rico, played for 10 seasons in the Minor Leagues and independent ball (1996-2005) after being selected in the second round of the MLB Draft in 1996 by the A’s from the University of Mobile. He spent time in the Oakland, Florida, Colorado, Kansas City, St. Louis, Texas and Tampa Bay organizations as a player, reaching Triple-A.
After retiring from playing, he coached in the Marlins system from 2006 to 2013, and joined the major league club as a third base coach in 2010. He spent four seasons (2014 to 2017) with the Yankees as a scout and third baseman. . He coached (’15-17) before the Astros hired him days after winning the ’17 World Series.
Espada is the brother-in-law of Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. Hyde married Lisa Dearth in 2006, and Joe married his younger sister, Pamela, in 2009. Hyde managed Class A Greensboro in 2006 at the same time Espada was the infield coordinator in the Marlins system. Espada used to stay at Hyde’s house in Florida, and that’s how he ended up meeting Pamela.
Espada will be the club’s twentieth full-time technical director and the first Latin American coach since Preston Gómez (1974-75).