The Detroit Tigers announced on Wednesday that they’ve hired Joey Cora as their new infield coach. A former major leaguer and most recently the New York Mets third base coach, Cora is expected to take over at third base according to Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press, who was first with the story.
In October, the Tigers decided not to renew first base coach Alfredo Amezaga’s contract, opening a vacancy for Cora. Current third base coach Gary Jones is expected to move to the dugout, so the Tigers will still be looking for a first base coach. Per Petzold, Toledo Mud Hens manager Anthony Iapoce could be the replacement at first base, though no decision has been made yet.
Double-A Erie SeaWolves manager, Gabe Alvarez, has drawn a lot of accolades for his work in the Tigers’ farm system the past few years and reportedly interviewed for the third base coach assignment, but for now will remain manager of the SeaWolves.
The Puerto Rican born Cora is of course the brother of AJ HInch’s bench coach in Houston, Alex Cora, now the manager of the Boston Red Sox. Joey Cora is expected to be the Tigers’ infield coach and has a longstanding relationship with Tigers’ shortstop Javier Báez. Cora became available when Buck Showalter was fired as manager of the Mets.
Joey Cora was a major league second baseman for 11 seasons, most notably with the Mets, the Chicago White Sox, and the Seattle Mariners. He’s coached for the White Sox, Miami Marlins, PIttsburgh Pirates, as well as most recently, the Mets.
Finding the right infield coach is particularly important as the Tigers look to improve Spencer Torkelson’s defense at first base and manage the mix of infielders who, at least so far, are projected to handle second and third base. They also expect prospects like Colt Keith, Justyn-Henry Malloy, and Jace Jun to get playing time in 2024. All of them project as bat first major leaguers who need ongoing work to improve their defensive abilities. Jung has been solid at second base, but worked on learning third base in the Arizona Fall League to try and give the organization more options.
In other coaching news, the New York Yankees are expected to name Tigers’ assistant hitting coach, James Rowson, as their new hitting coach. Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the Yankees had offered him the job. The report has been out for two days but there is no final word yet.
Rowson was hired last offseason as the assistant hitting coach of the Tigers as they moved on from Scott Coolbaugh. Michael Brdar and Keith Beauregard were co-head hitting coaches this season, but Rowson has the most experience of the group. He was the Yankees minor league hitting coordinator as Aaron Judge came up through the Yankees’ system and has gotten some credit for helping the slugger make his way to the major leagues.
The ongoing GM Meetings this week, which mark the beginning of the official offseason, have already seen a ton of front office and coaching hires. They’ve also seen an unfortunate run of a fairly gnarly intestinal ailment.
Most recently, Ron Washington was hired as the new manager of the Los Angeles Angels. Washington hasn’t managed since 2014. Of course, the shocker this week was the Chicago Cubs poaching Craig Counsell from the Milwaukee Brewers and making him the highest paid manager in baseball history. The Cubs signed him to a five-year, $40 million deal to replace David Ross, setting off a storm of commentary from front office personnel and other league managers.
Carlos Mendoza was also hired as new manager of the New York Mets, while Stephen Vogt is now the manager of the Cleveland Guardians, replacing Terry Francona, who retired as season’s end. Manager Bob Melvin has already left the San Diego Padres to take over as manager of the San Francisco Giants. Padres GM AJ Preller said on Wednesday that a new managerial hire will be announced soon.