The Tigers on Saturday declined to make manager Brad Ausmus the scapegoat for their disappointing season, announcing that he will return in 2016.
Might the Reds do the same with Bryan Price?
The team is considering retaining Price and making changes to his coaching staff, but no decisions will be made until the season is over, according to major-league sources.
The rationale for the Reds keeping Price would be similar to the Tigers’ logic for keeping Ausmus – that the manager should not be held responsible for injuries and trades that compromised the club.
The last-place Reds, however, are stumbling to the finish, renewing the possibility that Price will be dismissed and perhaps replaced by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, a much-rumored candidate for the position.
Monday’s 5-1 loss to the Nationals was the Reds’ ninth straight. Seven of those defeats were against two division leaders, the Cardinals and Mets. The Reds have been outscored during the nine games, 64-21.
Injuries, however, have limited catcher Devin Mesoraco to only 23 games, shortstop Zack Cozart to 53 and center fielder Billy Hamilton to 114, while right-hander Homer Bailey has made just two starts.
Hamilton was disappointing offensively, producing only a .563 OPS, and Eugenio Suarez has proven an adequate replacement for Cozart. But the Reds also have used rookie starting pitchers in 58 straight games since July 29 due to the trades of right-handers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. They also traded outfielder Marlon Byrd in August.
Even if the Reds decide to keep Price, who is under contract through 2016, they could change a number of his coaches.
Pitching coach Jeff Pico, completing the second year of his first major-league job, would be among the most vulnerable, sources say.
Bench coach Jay Bell, who reportedly had a dispute with Byrd during a 4-3 loss to the Royals the day before Byrd was traded, also could be a topic of discussion.
Byrd, after getting sent to the Giants, told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “I didn’t get into a spat with Jay Bell. I had a conversation with the manager about Jay Bell. We had conversations all year about him.”
Price’s reaction to any potential changes in his staff also could factor into whether he returns. He resigned out of principle and forfeited a six-figure salary as Diamondbacks pitching coach in 2009 after the team fired his friend Bob Melvin as manager and passed over coaches Kirk Gibson and Chip Hale to hire A.J. Hinch.