New Management for Baseball’s Panthers
November 1, 2029
by Samantha Guerin (Sports Editor)
New General Manager John Gagan has wasted no time in making some serious changes in the front office and field management ranks of the Portland Panthers. Numerous managers and coaches have been shuffled between minor league affiliates, but here we will discuss only the changes made at the major league level.
Assistant General Manager Craig Heyer has been fired. Replacing him, effective immediately, will be Dave Messier. From 2022 until 2027 Messier was the assistant general manager for a very successful Vancouver Canadian team. It is not uncommon for a new General Manager to bring in a new assistant. Gagan told me that Messier will be very active in the day-to-day running of the Panther organization.
The new field management alignment of the Panthers for 2030 will be:
- Manager: Andy Green – The one-time manager of Pepperdine College (2015-2017) first managed in the CBL with the San Diego Surf Dogs (2021-2025) where he managed to finish over .500 just one time. In 2026 he moved on to the Charlotte Knights and immediately won the CBL championship. In 2027 the Knights won 110 games. Then the bottom fell out and he managed only 113 wins over the next two seasons combined. He is highly regarded throughout baseball. Green has signed a contract through 2033.
- Bench Coach: Monty Sokoloski – Age 49, he reportedly exhibits and promotes the same management tendencies as Green. Still, having no experience at coaching or managing in the CBL, he seems like a strange choice for the job. He replaces Garret Anderson, whose contract was up this year and was not offered an extension.
- Pitching Coach: Derrick Lewis remains on the job. He has had the job since 2023 after spending time coaching in the minors for the Panthers.
- Batting Coach: José Soto – Just hired, he has been the hitting coach for the AAA affiliate of the Minneapolis Millers since 2024. Highly regarded, this will be his first major league assignment.
- Scouting Director: Deron Johnson stays on in the job that he took over in 2028. Prior to that he was scouting director for Altoona (2015-2016), assistant general manager for Altoona (2018-2019), and then scouting director for Vancouver (2021-2022) and Manchester (2025).
- Team Trainer: Jerry Wheeler will start his third year in this position next season.
Griffin Helms, the longtime Panther catcher, is coming off a five-year deal that paid him over $20 million per year. At age 33 in an age-sensitive position, there was no way he was going to command that kind of money in an extension. The consensus was that he would enter the free agent market. Instead, he has signed a two-year extension that pays him $12 million per year. The second year is a team option with a $3 million buyout. Gagan said, “We looked at the upcoming market for free agent catchers and didn’t like what we saw. We are happy that Griffin chose to ink a new deal for a more reasonable amount.” Fans will be happy to see the extremely popular player still in a Panther uniform next season.
Manny Perez, another extremely popular player, signed an extension deal that will make him the second highest paid Panther after third baseman Jacob Gatewood. He will earn $16 million per year for three years with the final year being at his option. The iron man first baseman has topped 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in the last two years.
Steve Gates, a relief pitcher, chose to take a salary cut to stay in Portland. He has made over $2 million going back to 2025, but he inked a two year deal worth $1.04 million per year. The second year is a player option.
Gill will be a free agent and would need to sign an extension almost immediately to stay with the team. Oddly, he led the league in plate appearances, at bats, hits, and stolen bases while recording a negative 1.4 WAR. The bad WAR is most probably due to a laughably bad -44 zone rating in center field. If he signs an extension, which would require a multi-year deal worth $9 million or so, expect to see him switch to right field next year.
Carlton, three years older at 31, has a team option for next season at $7.4 million. That’s most likely less than the Panthers would have to pay to extend Gill. While lacking Gill’s pure speed, Carlton is arguably just as good a base runner and base stealer as Gill while possessing more power at the plate. But he had a -23 zone rating in right field. Gill would probably be a marginally better right field than Carlton.