This morning, September 5th, on 850AM ESPN Cleveland, Guardians' reporter and sideline commentator Andre Knott, said "keep an eye on Will Venable" in regards to the replacement of Terry Francona in the managerial role, should Francona retire as expected at the conclusion of the 2023 season.
This isn't the first time I've heard Venable's name, as reporter Zack Meisel mentioned him on a recent Selby is Godcast as someone who was on Guardians GM Mike Chernoff’s college baseball team at Princeton and might be a potential candidate to be their manager. Venable spent 2016 spring training with the Cleveland baseball team before being released on March 27th and finishing his career that summer with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Venable played parts of nine big league seasons, mostly for the San Diego Padres, had a career 101 wRC+, 135 stolen bases and only 31 caught stealing, and put up 13 fWAR. That solid major league career followed a sterling college baseball and basketball resume at Princeton, becoming the only Princeton player to be twice-named All-Ivy League in both sports (along with Chris Young, who would also eventually play with the Padres and become Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Texas Rangers).
Since his playing career ended, Venable has been a first base and third base coach for the Chicago Cubs (2018-2020), a bench coach for the Boston Red Sox (2020-2022), and an associate manager for the Texas Rangers in 2023. He’s widely viewed as the eventual replacement for Bruce Bochy, Rangers manager. Venable has interviewed for managerial jobs with, at least, the Royals, Rangers, Astros, Red Sox, Athletics and Tigers, so he has been a sought-after candidate without landing those jobs as of yet. The sought-after is certainly a positive thing, while the “not able to land the job yet” might give some fans pause.
Venable spent time in Japan and in the Dominican with his dad, Max, who was a major league baseball player, and his thesis in Princeton was on multi-culturalism in baseball as seen in his time in Japan and the U.S. Venable, throughout his public life, has been known as intelligent, a fierce competitor and incredibly kind and personable. He’s gracious in giving interviews, and even in answering questions from first-time reporters turning them into lifelong fans of his.
Venable is a resident of California, so it would be interesting to see how the Guardians would attempt to lure him to the shores of Lake Erie, if that is indeed their goal. Venable has a reputation as an analytically-inclined person around the game, as well as being a person everyone likes to be around. In contrast with the majority of MLB managers who are north of 50 years old and white, Venable is a 40-year old black man which could bring some helpful perspectives to a culturally-diverse major league clubhouse.
As we monitor news and hope for a healthy and happy conclusion to the season for Terry Francona, we’ll keep you up to date about potential names who could be the Guardians’ manager should Tito’s retirement actually occur. Venable is certainly an interesting name to consider. You can read an earlier list of potential names I compiled here.