Red Sox manager Alex Cora is going to need a new bench coach in 2023.
Will Venable, who held that title in Boston for the last two seasons, has been hired by the Texas Rangers to serve as associate manager on Bruce Bochy’s coaching staff next year, the club announced on Wednesday.
“Will is highly-regarded within the game, and I am very happy to have him on the staff as we prepare for the 2023 season,” Bochy said in a statement released by the team. “Will has acquired extensive coaching experience in a short period of time since his playing career ended, and that experience will be invaluable to me as we work to build a winning environment in Texas.”
Venable, 40, was originally named Red Sox bench coach in November 2020 after spending the previous four years with the Cubs as both an executive (2017) and base coach (2018-2020). Although he lost out to Cora in the managerial interview process that fall, Cora elected to tap him as one of his top lieutenants in the dugout.
Over the last two seasons, Venable was responsible for coordinating major-league spring training in Fort Myers and for coordinating Boston’s outfield instruction. He also stepped in as interim manager on two separate occasions while Cora was away for his daughter’s high school graduation last May and while Cora was out with COVID-19 this past April.
At the conclusion of the 2021 campaign, Venable — a Bay Area native — interviewed for the Athletics’ managerial opening before Oakland decided to hire Mark Kotsay. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported last month that Venable had emerged as a candidate for the Royals’ vacancy, which ultimately went to Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro.
Venable has connections to Texas. The former big-league outfielder spent part of the 2015 season with the Rangers and was teammates with general manager Chris Young for parts of three seasons (2008-2010) with the Padres. Both Venable and Young attended Princeton University.
With Venable’s departure, the Red Sox now have an important vacancy to fill on their coaching staff. It remains to be seen if Cora will look internally or externally to find Venable’s replacement. First base coach Ramon Vazquez, third base coach Carlos Febles, and game-planning coordinator Jason Varitek all represent strong internal options. Major-league field coordinator Andy Fox and Triple-A Worcester manager Chad Tracy could be considered as well.
Vazquez is currently in Puerto Rico serving as manager for the Criollos Cagaus while Febles is in the Dominican Republic serving as bench coach for the Tigres del Licey. Varitek, on the other hand, recently signed a multi-year contract extension to remain with the Red Sox. According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, that deal is good for two years and includes a team option for a third.
In addition to Vazquez, Febles, Varitek, and Fox, all other Red Sox coaches are expected to return to the club next season. That includes pitching coach Dave Bush, bullpen coach Kevin Walker, hitting coach Pete Fatse, and assistant hitting coaches Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal.
(Picture of Will Venable: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)