ARLINGTON, Texas — Manager Jeff Banister was fired Friday morning ahead of the Texas Rangers' final home series and with only 10 games remaining in what could be one of the worst seasons in club history, the club announced.
Bench coach Don Wakamatsu will serve as the interim manager for the rest of the season, which ends Sept. 30 at Seattle.
"I informed Jeff Banister of our decision earlier today," general manager Jon Daniels said in a statement. "I want to thank Jeff for his dedication and efforts with the Texas Rangers over the last four years. This organization is very appreciative of what he has contributed to the club on the field and in the community.
"This was not an easy decision and comes after a long period of evaluation. However, we feel that a change in the leadership of our Major League club is necessary as we move forward. Once this conclusion was reached, I felt it was appropriate to make the move now. On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Jeff and his family the best."
Wins and losses were not the main cause for the Rangers deciding to end his tenure after nearly full four seasons. The Star-Telegram reported Thursday, citing multiple sources, that club officials were questioning if he was part of the long-range rebuilding plan.
The sources said that a rift between the players and the manager, rooted in poor communication, had developed _ not just this season but in past campaigns. The players also had become convinced that their interests weren't Banister's No. 1 interest.
Banister was hired after the 2014 season to replace Ron Washington, who resigned abruptly in September. The Rangers won the American League West title in Banister's first season in 2015, rallying past the Houston Astros and seizing on Banister's #nevereverquit mantra.
He was selected as the AL Manager of the Year.
The Rangers repeated as West champs in 2016 and had the league's best record, but for the second straight season were ousted from the AL Division Series by the Toronto Blue Jays. After winning the first two games in 2015, the Rangers lost their next season ALDS games to the Blue Jays.
The Rangers' West reign ended last season, though they weren't eliminated from postseason contention until the final week of the season.
They entered this season with a reduced payroll and a lot needed to go right for them to contend. Things went south quickly, with injuries a contributing factor, and by June the Rangers were fully engaged in a "development" mode, Daniels said.
But the player-manager relationship had deteriorated in each of Banister's seasons. To illustrate that, two sources said that a group text message circulated shortly after the Rangers picked up Banister's option for 2019.
A group of players had voiced their concerns about Banister with Daniels before the season ended and were anticipating a change.
"They were hot," one source said.