New A’s manager Mark Kotsay says he will retain coaching staff

New A’s manager Mark Kotsay is going to keep the band together.

After signing a three-year deal Tuesday to succeed his mentor and friend Bob Melvin as Oakland’s next skipper, Kotsay spoke to the media, including an informative interview on A’s Cast with Chris Townsend.

Once the smoke cleared from BoMel’s departure to the San Diego Padres without compensation, many figured it was a cost-cutting move by the A’s heading into a possible rebuild year. Kotsay and Ryan Christenson seemed like the two most logical in-house candidates who would provide continuity. After Melvin lured Christenson to San Diego to be his bench coach again, the respected Kotsay fit the bill for Oakland.

The 46-year-old has developed relationships with this entire roster of players since the 2016 season, knows the front office and, perhaps most importantly, understands the financial and organizational limitations that come with managing in Oakland.

In the theme of continuity, Kotsay sounds committed to keeping the five additional 2021 assistant coaches on the staff heading into 2022. The A’s current coaching staff includes fellow managerial finalists hitting coach Darren Bush and bullpen coach Marcus Jensen, pitching coach Scott Emerson, assistant hitting coach Eric Martins and first-base coach Mike Aldrete.

“The culture of the coaches’ room will not change,” Kotsay told Townsend. “I have five of the hardest-working coachies in the big leagues that will continue to be with me and be on the staff. I know their work ethic and I know their passion and I know their drive. I couldn’t be more excited to be moving forward with them.”

The A’s currently have a vacancy in the third-base coach’s box, where Kotsay roamed (to mixed results) last season. 

“We’re in the process of going through and evaluating how we want to move forward with our staff,” Kotsay said. “I really can’t speak to that at that point. I will say, as [general manager] David [Forst] said at the end of the press conference, I’m antsy, I’m excited, enthusiastic about where we’re going to take the staff and what we can do.”

Coaching staffs are growing around the league — the Giants have 16 coaches listed, by comparison — so Kotsay’s comments seem to leave the door open for a bigger restructure than adding just a third-base coach. But, again, John Fisher is the one writing the checks and the A’s are expected to be tight-fisted with the cash.

Kotsay spent six seasons learning from Melvin as a coach on his staff but said there’s one key difference that separates them.

“Bob was able to control his ups and downs and his emotions,” Kotsay said. “I think as I grow into this role, I’m going to learn that that’s a great character trait. Whether or not I can do that start will be a challenge, but I think that’s the separator, is that I do wear emotion on my sleeve and my players will see that. But it will both be positive and negative.”

The A’s have been enamored with Kotsay since his playing days, according to Billy Beane and David Forst. They acquired Kotsay via trade from the Padres for Terrence Long and Ramon Hernandez in 2004 before he spent four seasons in the Green and Gold. Kotsay retired in 2013 following a 17-year career.

In the past couple of years Kotsay had interviewed for five previous managerial gigs – the Giants, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Though he had an inside track with the A’s job, Kotsay said he didn’t take anything for granted throughout the interview process.

“Those experiences, going through those interviews, the humility of failure, the lessons learned, the growth that I’ve had over the last few years,” Kotsay said. “The timing, I think it was just God’s plan to land where I belong and that’s in Oakland, where my roots are.”