Houston Astros rumors: Jeff Banister, the former Texas Rangers manager who led the team to American League West division titles in 2015 and 2016, is on the early list of candidates to replace A.J. Hinch, per Brian McTaggert. Hinch, along with general manager Jeff Luhnow, was fired this week after being suspended for a year by MLB as a result of the league’s investigation of the Astros cheating by stealing signs electronically in 2017 and 2018.
Banister, you may recall, was hired by the Rangers as their manager after the 2014 season (beating out, among others, Alex Cora, who was the Astros bench coach in 2017, and who was just fired/quit as the Boston Red Sox manager in advance of what is expected to be a year long suspension for his role in the cheating scandal). Banister earned praise for his work in leading the Rangers to the playoffs his first two years, finishing ahead of Houston each year, but his leadership style wore thin relatively quickly, and he was fired late in 2018 after having reportedly completely lost the clubhouse.
Banister had spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining the Rangers, and he returned to Pittsburgh for the 2019 season. He would be an interesting choice for the Astros, and quite a departure from their previous mold, though the organization may not see that as a bad thing.
Banister is part of an impressive pool of candidates being considered, as Baker, Showalter, and Bochy are all veteran managers with impressive resumes. Joe Espada, the Astros bench coach the last two years, has been a managerial candidate with other teams, including the Rangers after the 2018 season, and he would seem to be the leading internal candidate.
Also mentioned as candidates are Will Venable, the former outfielder who was part of the 2015 Rangers, and who has been with the Chicago Cubs the past three years, and Raul Ibanez, a highly respected former player who has been with the Los Angeles Dodgers front office since 2016.