The Twins fired Molitor as their manager shortly after the regular season ended. Baldelli hit a combined.285/.326/.425 with 27 homers and 44 steals through his first 292 big league games, flashing the potential to emerge as a true five-tool asset for a still-young Rays franchise. He also is the first base coach. Paul Molitor, who was sacked earlier this month, worked in the organization for 10 years before replacing Gardenhire following the 2014 season.
Molitor was named the American League Manager of the Year in 2017.
The 24-year-old Buxton was again affected by injuries and struggled anew at the plate, so much that he spent the last four months in Triple-A.
Cut to 2000 and the Devil Rays drafted Baldelli with the sixth overall pick out of high school. He spent six seasons with the Rays and one with the Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays created a postion for Baldelli last season called Major League Field Coordinator, which included focusing on the development of the team's young players. He picked up the nickname "Woonsocket Rocket" for his birthplace city and his speed on the field. Injuries hounded him for most of his career, however, and a rare disorder that caused muscle fatigue ultimately forced him to retire after the 2010 season. Gardenhire, in turn, held onto the Twins' managerial post until 2014 and was replaced by Molitor, who'd served on his own coaching staff.
It's a radical shift for a Twins organization that has previously opted to hire from within the organization.