The Tampa Bay Rays wasted little time in rewarding manager Kevin Cash for his role in the team’s surprising 90-win season in 2018. Less than two weeks after the conclusion of their season, the Rays announced on Tuesday that they have signed Cash to a long-term contract extension.
Cash had one season remaining on the five-year contract he signed to manage the Rays prior to the 2015 season. The Rays didn’t have to do this, as that contract held a team option for the 2020 and 2021 seasons that they simply could have exercised this off-season. Instead, they did the right thing by rewarding Cash with a five-year extension through the 2024 season. The contract also carries a team option for 2025. If the Tampa native finishes this contract with the Rays, he will become the longest-serving manager in franchise history. Joe Maddon managed Tampa Bay for nine seasons from 2006-2014.
The Rays officially hired Cash on December 5, 2014, one day before his 37th birthday. General Manager Andrew Friedman had left the Rays in October to become President of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Friedman leaving triggered an opt-out clause in Maddon’s contract, which he exercised to go take a more lucrative job managing the Chicago Cubs. Cash was then hired to replace Maddon.
Cash was a somewhat out-of-the-box hire. Not just because of how young he was, but also because of how little coaching experience he had. At the time he was just three years removed from his playing days. Since then he’d spent one year as an advanced scout for the Toronto Blue Jays and two as the bullpen coach for the Cleveland Indians.
Cash has grown on the job, though, and did an outstanding job this season. Already given a roster that had the lowest payroll in baseball, Cash also had to deal with several veterans being traded away both in spring training and during the season. He also had no shortage of injuries to deal with. The Rays used 54 different players this season, and 23 different rookies, both of which were franchise records. Cash also successfully implemented unique strategies like the opener and playing pitchers at defensive positions. He is expected to receive strong consideration for American League Manager of the Year, along with the likes of Bob Melvin and Alex Cora.
Cash has an overall record of 318-330 (.491 winning percentage) through his first four seasons. Aside from a 68-94 campaign in 2016, he’s done a good job of leading Rays teams that have usually been more competitive than most people expected them to be. He just fell short of .500 seasons with 80-82 records in 2015 and 2017, then posted his first winning season with a 90-72 record this year.
The Rays may not have made the postseason yet in Cash’s tenure. However, this contract extension makes it clear that they still believe he’s the man who will lead them back there.
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