After years of flirting with his potential departure, the Dodgers finally seem poised to lose a locker room voice.
Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough was passed over late in the game for the Kansas City Royals' manager gig last fall, but nice guys don't finish second forever (pulse check: Royals probably regretting that Matt Quatraro hire). Given yet another bite at the apple, it appears the Cleveland Guardians came away from speaking with McCullough very impressed, leading one Dodgers beat writer to call his departure "inevitable."
It might not be the Guardians, but some MLB team is certainly on the verge of putting their trust in McCullough, and Cleveland seems as likely a landing spot as any based on the glowing reports emanating from their recent interview.
Cleveland insider Paul Hoynes noted that the Guardians came away "impressed" from their discussion with McCullough, who spent four years (hitting .197) in the organization from 2002-2005. Not bad for a 22nd round pick to have a full-circle opportunity like this.
Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough impresses Guardians
Whoever steps into Cleveland's vacancy will have to fill the obnoxiously big shoes (and moped seat) of Terry Francona, who held the position for 11 seasons after he was unceremoniously dismissed in Boston (after one eensy, teensy collapse). Until his retirement, Francona was one of the last bastion of "baseball men" who could galvanize a locker room with a single story while also listening to and absorbing modern advancements in analytics. He was in baseball for five decades, but didn't let that wealth of experience cloud his ability to accept the game's natural movements.
McCullough does not have the luxury of learned experience, but the 43-year-old has been immersed in the Dodgers' organization since the end of the 2014 season after eight campaigns in the Blue Jays' minor-league system. He's been coaching first base since 2021.
If any franchise can give you a crash course on the modern game, it's the Dodgers. Add in McCullough's "impressive" personal touches, and it seems he won't just be in line for a managerial job, but potentially the toughest succession assigment in baseball.