CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds didn't search far for their next manager. On Tuesday, the club hired pitching coach Bryan Price to be Dusty Baker's replacement as skipper.
"We didn't have to think very long for the right manager," Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini said. "We're very confident Bryan is the right manager to take us deep into the postseason, and farther."
Price, 51, agreed to a three-year contract through the 2016 season. He has served as Reds pitching coach since 2010, helping guide the development of one of baseball's best young pitching staffs. Price is credited for the maturation of right-handers Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, who is now the architect of two no-hitters.
Under Price, Cincinnati's 2012 and 2013 staffs were among the most successful in franchise history. Last season, Reds pitchers led the National League in strikeouts. The 17 team shutouts were the most since 1973, and the starters' ERA of 3.43 was the staff's best since 1974.
Price's hiring comes on the heels of Baker's ouster. Baker, who ranks 16th on the all-time managerial wins list, was fired after the Reds closed the season with six straight losses including the wild-card game to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Baker had led Cincinnati to 90-plus win seasons and playoff appearances in three of the past four seasons.
"Any coach is a compilation of everyone he's been associated with," Price said. "I learned a lot from Dusty. I've learned from all my managers. We've taken a huge step in the right direction as an organization. We need to hold each other accountable. What kind of team do we want to be? Do we want to create an identity as a team that nobody wants to play us?"
Price's first offseason at the helm could be a busy one. The Reds likely will need to replace 200-plus innings from veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo and fill a void at the leadoff spot left by Shin-Soo Choo. Both are free agents. Young left-hander Tony Cingrani and speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton will be thrust into key roles.
Price pushed for hard-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman to be moved into the starting rotation prior to last season, only to be overruled by Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty. Price's hiring has reignited discussions about using Chapman and his 100-plus mph fastball every fifth day.
"I was on record saying pitchers get better with their secondary pitches by throwing innings," Price said. "I haven't changed that philosophy. That said, we'll put our players in the best position to succeed. We'll make that decision in spring training."
"I have spent a lot of time with Bryan since the season ended, and I was convinced after the first meeting he is the right person to help us move this organization forward," said Jocketty, who added there have been no decisions made regarding the coaching staff. "The things we were looking for -- character, leadership, culture of accountability -- were all things he not only met but exceeded."
After toiling for six years as a pitcher in the minor leagues, Price had stints as pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. He interviewed for the Florida Marlins' managerial opening last year and was rumored to be a candidate for the Mariners job this year.
"I was happy being a pitching coach. But like everything, it has a shelf life," Price said. "The next challenge was out there and I really wanted to meet it. Obviously this is a huge moment for me and my family."