SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres have given Mike Shildt another chance to manage in the big leagues, just two years after his run with St. Louis ended abruptly despite him leading the Cardinals to three straight playoff appearances and winning the 2019 NL Manager of the Year Award.
Shildt signed a two-year contract on Tuesday to replace Bob Melvin, who was hired away by his hometown San Francisco Giants on Oct. 25 with a year left on his contract with the Padres. That ended a fractured two-year relationship with general manager A.J. Preller.
“I'm really grateful for a second act,” Shildt said at a Petco Park news conference. “Not everybody gets it. You take for granted there are only 30 of these jobs. I promise you I won't take this one for granted. I'm excited about our team."
Both Shildt and Preller spoke fondly about Peter Seidler, the Padres owner and chairman who died a week earlier at 63.
Seidler dreamed aloud last spring about the Padres winning the World Series and having a parade. But the star-studded roster, which had baseball's third-highest opening day payroll of $258 million, flopped dramatically and missed the playoffs.
Shildt has been in the organization for two years and said he met often with Seidler "to talk baseball, talk life, talk community, talk charity. What a beautiful soul, as everybody knows. I was very blessed to have gotten to know such a fine gentleman. There was such a pure goodness about him.
“I'm going to be a big part in helping carry his vision for the San Diego Padres moving forward to ultimately us winning a first World Series championship," Shildt added. "That'll be one way we can remember the great legacy of Peter Seidler.”
Shildt has been a senior advisor to the major league staff and player development department with the Padres since 2022. His familiarity with the team's top minor league prospects could be a bonus in guiding a big league roster led by stars Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts.
Shildt filled in as third base coach early in the 2023 season after Matt Williams had colon cancer surgery. The previous season, Shildt also stepped in as third base coach, first base coach and bench coach due to various medical situations.
He is San Diego’s third manager in four seasons and the fifth full-time manager under Preller since midway through the 2015 season. Preller’s teams have never won a division title or even 90 games in a season, and Melvin was the only manager to guide the Padres to consecutive winning seasons under the GM. In his first season, Melvin guided the Padres to their first NL Championship Series since they won the pennant in 1998.
Shildt started as a scout with the Cardinals in 2003, switched to player development and worked his way through various levels of the minor league system. He was appointed interim manager in August 2018, then took over the permanent job the following season. The Cardinals won 91 games that season, earning Shildt the NL Manager of the Year award, and advanced to the NL Championship Series before getting swept by the Nationals.
The Cardinals lost 2-1 to the Padres in a wild card series following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. They had a franchise-record 17-game winning streak in 2021 and reached the wild card game before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a walk-off homer. A week later, Shildt was fired for what Cardinals president John Mozeliak said were “philosophical differences” between Shildt, the coaching staff and the front office.
Reports surfaced late last season that the Padres were a dysfunctional organization with a lack of clubhouse leadership. After the season ended, Preller and Melvin said they could work together for another year, but the Giants asked permission to interview Melvin and then hired him.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work with A.J.,” Shildt said. “I think it's really important right now that there's alignment, which there is, with what we're doing and how we're doing it. The functional teams win and I'm looking forward to stability and collaboration with what we're doing with the front office, with our club all the way vertically down the organization.”
Preller said the Padres spoke with Shildt two years ago about managing the club but he didn't feel ready and could help the organization in other ways.
Preller said Shildt “is a baseball expert. His acumen in the game, Xs and Os, strategy, how to teach the game, how to progress the game on the field, has been built for many years of managing, many bus rides, many conversations in clubhouses, chalk talks, instructional leagues, eventually as a major league coach and a major league manager. Mike Shildt teams are very prepared and detailed oriented. His style is open and transparent.”