AJ Hinch emerges as top candidate to replace White Sox manager Rick Renteria

Rick Renteria is out. Who will be in as the White Sox’ 41st manager?

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A.J. Hinch managed the Houston Astros from 2015 to 2019, winning the World Series in 2017.

A.J. Hinch managed the Houston Astros from 2015 to 2019, winning the World Series in 2017.

Juan DeLeon/AP

Rick Renteria is out.

Who will be in as the White Sox’ 41st manager?

Many signs point to former Astros skipper AJ Hinch as the Sox’ top choice, and if Hinch wants to manage again, the Sox job shapes up as an attractive opportunity for multiple reasons, including a young, talented team that just got a taste of the postseason. Much of the roster is under contract control for multiple seasons.

Hinch, 46, who can’t talk to other teams until after the World Series, was suspended for one year in January by MLB and fired by the Astros in the wake of MLB’s discovery of Houston’s sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 season, when Hinch guided the team to the World Series title.

On Monday, general manager Rick Hahn said the Sox likely will go outside the organization for an experienced replacement, but he sidestepped a question about whether Hinch’s or Alex Cora’s involvement in the scandal would preclude him from considering them. Cora, 44, was Hinch’s bench coach with the Astros in 2017, and he resigned as Red Sox manager before the 2020 season, but sources say the Sox are not interested in Cora, who might be headed back to Boston, anyway.

“Ultimately, I think the best candidate or the ideal candidate is going to be someone who has experience with a championship organization in recent years,” Hahn said. “Recent October experience with a championship organization would be ideal. But we’re going to keep an open mind. These next weeks, several weeks, we’ll diligently pursue who’s on our list and go from there.”

Hahn said he had no timeline for the hire, which can’t be made until after the World Series.

“I don’t think I’m going to get into too much detail in terms of specific attributes,” Hahn said. “I don’t want to say anything that’s going to influence what we hear from any candidates when we go through this process. I will say that this is an opportunity for us as an organization.”

Hahn said it was more likely the Sox would stay within the organization to replace pitching coach Don Cooper, who also was fired Monday, making Class AAA Charlotte pitching coach Matt Zaleski and minor-league pitching coordinator Everett Teaford possible candidates. Teaford and Zaleski have delivered more advanced modern elements to player development, using analytics and technology that, while accepted by Renteria and Cooper, were not fully embraced to the satisfaction of the Sox’ baseball operations and front office, sources said.

Hinch, a former catcher, thrived in the analytically driven Astros system and has seven years of experience as a manager and plenty of postseason chops. The Astros lost the American League Championship Series to the Red Sox in 2018 and lost the World Series to the Nationals in 2019.

Four possible candidates:

AJ Hinch

Hinch’s résumé has been tainted by his role and neglect in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, which led to his firing, but he’s widely considered among baseball’s top managers,He owns a 570-452 (.558) record, including three seasons of 101 wins or more from 2017 to 2019 and a World Series title.

Alex Cora

He led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2018 but was fired before the 2020 season in the wake of the Astros’ scandal. He fits general manager Rick Hahn’s job description, but sources say the Sox have limited interest in Cora, the brother of former Sox bench coach Joey Cora.

Sandy Alomar Jr.

The former Sox catcher, who has been considered for Sox managing and bench-coach jobs in the past, has been anchored on the Indians’ coaching staff since 2010. Alomar went 28-18 this season when he stepped in during manager Terry Francona’s illness.

Tony La Russa

USA Today reported the Sox will reach out to their former manager, although at 76, La Russa seems like a long shot despite his relationship with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. La Russa hasn’t managed since 2011, when he guided the Cardinals to his third World Series championship.

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