CINCINNATI — Pitching coach Bryan Price was first on the Reds’ list of manager candidates. Three hours of answering every question tossed his way ended their search rather quickly.
After one interview, it was over.
The Reds stayed in-house for their next manager, giving Price a three-year deal Tuesday that came with expectations that he’ll take them deep into the playoffs right away.
“Bryan is exceptional,” owner Bob Castellini said. “We’ve been fortunate to be with him long enough to know how exceptional he is.
“I can’t tell you how well this has fit in for us. We did not have to go out and do a search,” he said. “We had the person we felt could take this team deep into the postseason and then some.”
Dusty Baker led the Reds to three 90-win seasons and three playoff appearances in the past four years, their best stretch of success since Sparky Anderson managed the Big Red Machine in the 1970s. But Cincinnati got knocked out in the first round of the postseason each time.
The Reds fired Baker with a year left on his two-year deal after a final-week fade that included an implosion by the pitching staff.
Cincinnati lost its last six games, including a 6-2 defeat at PNC Park in the wild-card playoff against the Pirates. General manager Walt Jocketty said the closing slump was a major factor in the decision to make a change.
The job carries enormous expectations for the 51-year-old Price, who has been one of the most successful pitching coaches in the majors but has never managed at any level. He interviewed for the Marlins’ job last year, which got him thinking that he’d like to be a manager some day.
Given his four successful seasons in Cincinnati, he wanted to stay if possible.
“It’s a team that’s capable of doing even more,” Price said. “I think we certainly should talk very optimistically about the three playoff appearances in the last four years, which were maybe somewhat discredited because we hadn’t gotten past the first round.”
Lincecum agrees to contract
SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum is staying put with the San Francisco Giants just as he hoped, reaching agreement Tuesday on a $35 million, two-year contract through the 2015 season.
The deal is pending a physical, which had yet to be scheduled. Lincecum has a full no-trade clause in the new deal.
General manager Brian Sabean said when the season ended that among his top priorities was bringing back the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, who also indicated he cherishes familiarity and wanted stay with the only club he has known.
Lincecum went 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 32 starts this season.
Molitor joins Twins’ staff
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have added Paul Molitor to their coaching staff, assigning him supervision of the team’s base running, bunting, infield instruction and positioning as well as assistance with in-game strategy.
This is not some token job for a prominent, popular former player. All of those areas need a lot of work, so Molitor is going to be busy.
“He’s certainly got a history and knowledge and a high baseball IQ,” general manager Terry Ryan said. “There’s no doubt about that. It fits pretty good here.”
The hire was announced Tuesday by the Twins, who finished 66-96 for the second straight season after going 63-99 the year before that.
“There’s really no part of the game that we can’t do better at,” Molitor said, adding: “I’m going to be able to work on guys who need to have a small-ball game, with the things they can do, with ways to score runs. I think that’s kind of a lost art.
“Guys worry so much about getting on base, but they forget how to score and how to pick up 90 feet. While it wasn’t horrible, I think it certainly could be better.”
Since 2005, Molitor has served as a minor league base running and infield coordinator for the organization.
Dodgers sign Cuban infielder
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Cuban prospect Alexander Guerrero to a $28 million, four-year contract Tuesday.
The deal calls for a $10 million signing bonus payable upon approval of the contract by Major League Baseball. Guerrero would earn $4 million in both 2014 and 2015, and $5 million in both 2016 and 2017. There is $1 million per year in performance bonuses, based on 500-600 plate appearances.
The 26-year-old infielder defected from Cuba earlier this year and moved to Haiti. He has been training in the Dominican Republic.
“We feel Alexander can be an offensive infielder and a solid everyday player,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “We’re looking forward to him competing for a middle infield position and becoming a key contributor in 2014.”
Astros add 4 new coaches
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros have added four new coaches to their staff.
Brent Strom was named pitching coach, Pat Listach first base coach, Craig Bjornson bullpen coach and Ralph Dickenson assistant hitting coach.
Also on Tuesday, the team announced that third base coach Dave Trembley and former bench coach Eduardo Perez would switch positions for the upcoming season. Dan Radison, who spent last season as the team’s assistant hitting coach, has been named special assignment coach.