The Yankees continued the interview process for their open managerial position Saturday, sitting down with Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward. The 41-year-old is the fifth candidate to be interviewed.
The Yankees have sat mostly outside of the box with their candidate selections in that just one has MLB managerial experience (Eric Wedge) while others (Rob Thomson and Hensley Meulens) have lengthy stints as coaches and another has zero coaching experience (Aaron Boone). Woodward is another surprise candidate to convene with the Yankees.
Woodward is a 12-year MLB veteran who made stops in five cities - including seven years in Toronto and two with the Mets. Woodward retired in 2012.
Woodward immediately jumped into coaching, becoming an infield coach and minor league field coordinator for the Mariners. He has been the Dodgers third base coach for two seasons. Woodward's singular managerial role was as the skipper for the New Zealand national team in the 2016 World Baseball Classic.
Part of Woodward's allure could come from his young age -- the perception being he is not as far removed from what matters to players in the current era of the game than other candidates. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman continuously stresses that the new manager must possess a different style of interacting with players than former skipper Joe Girardi, who has been considered rigid and stressed in recent seasons.
Another aspect of Woodward's resume that may interest the Yankees is that he has worked under Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for the past two seasons. Roberts embodies the direction the Yankees would like to go with their own hiring. He is considered an analytical thinker and one who gets his points across to the players both on the field and in the clubhouse with a positive spin.
Woodward told media in a conference call after the interview that Roberts' ability to be even-keeled despite the situation is a strong takeaway from watching Roberts manage.
"Dave never broke stride. He never changed from an attitude standpoint. He's relentlessly positive. And I think that is probably what I take the most out of that," Woodward said. "His constant demeanor in a good way and he had a good way of explaining why we were doing what we're doing."
As for the analytics, which are deeply important to the Yankees, Woodward was clear that he's advanced his own understanding since becoming a coach and that it is necessary to relay the statistics to players in a way that ensures they understand the value.
"I think my message to them would be, this is a way to gain an advantage," he said. "It's going to make them more successful, which in turn is going to make our team more successful and I think we'd be fools not to do that."
Woodward seems to understand what the Yankees are looking for in a manager, but that hardly makes him the best choice. Again, as with each of the other candidates outside of Thomson, the Yankees will have to weigh a paper resume and the responses within an interview with a person they simply do not know well. The Yankees will try to determine if Woodward is strong enough to lead their squad based mostly on the notion that he's cut from a similar cloth as a prominent "new-age" manager in Roberts.
If Yankees proceed with Woodward, the organization will be looked at as taking chance on an individual that wouldn't have sniffed a managerial interview at this stage in his career just a few years ago. For the men expected to lead baseball clubs on the field and in the clubhouse, it's a whole new world.