Dan Jennings will almost certainly not be returning to the Marlins’ dugout as their manager next season, several sources have said. Whether he remains with the team in any capacity is up in the air.
The Marlins, under orders from owner Jeffrey Loria, are making sweeping changes to the team’s baseball operations, from player development and scouting, all the way up to the front office.
Whether any of those changes involve Jennings, who stepped aside as general manager to assume the manager’s job in May after Mike Redmond was fired, remains to be seen.
Sources said the relationship between Jennings and Loria has become increasingly strained over the course of the team’s disappointing season. Jennings could return to the front office, but not necessarily as general manager.
Jennings has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Seattle Mariners’ GM vacancy, though the Mariners have not yet asked permission from the Marlins to speak with him.
“Everybody’s on pins and needles,” said one source within the organization.
Internal meetings are scheduled in Miami for later in the week, after the Marlins return from their current road trip, at which point further decisions are expected to be made.
Already, sources said, some members of the player development and scouting staffs are either being reassigned to new roles or let go. Not only have the Marlins failed on the field, but their minor-league teams have also struggled and their farm system is bereft of top talent.
Their four top minor-league teams — from Single A up through Triple A — are either in last place or next-to-last. Only one minor-leaguer, former first-round pick Tyler Kolek, is listed among Baseball America’s Top 50 prospects, and Kolek is struggling at Low A Greensboro (North Carolina).
“It’s pretty bad,” ESPN baseball analyst Keith Law said of the Marlins’ farm system. “The system right now is not going to fill the short-term needs of the major-league club.”
But the immediate focus is on the Marlins and turning around a bitter season underscored by losses and injuries. The Marlins, whom many picked before the season to contend for a wild-card playoff spot, are instead trying to avoid 100 losses and a last-place finish.
Loria is frustrated, sources said, and prepared to make personnel changes within the organization. He has not been showing up at games and was noticeably absent for the annual, end-of-season team photo in Miami last week. His front-row seat in the photo, between Jennings and team president David Samson, was empty.
If Jennings doesn’t move back upstairs to the GM’s chair, one possible candidate to take over in that position is assistant general manager Michael Berger, who has assumed a more prominent role in the day-to-day roster decisions. Berger worked with the Montreal Expos when Loria owned the team.
▪ The Marlins could be returning to Puerto Rico next summer to play two games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Marlins have not yet released their 2016 schedule, but sources said a plan is in the works to have the Marlins play in Puerto Rico for the first time since 2010 when they faced the New York Mets.
The Marlins also played the Expos in Puerto Rico in 2003.
▪ Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 2 with a walk for Single A Jupiter on Tuesday in his first rehab game since going on the disabled list with a broken bone in his left hand. Stanton took himself out after making three plate appearances.
▪ Jarred Cosart (vertigo) had another shaky rehab outing Tuesday when he gave up three runs in four innings for Jupiter. Cosart allowed five hits and a pair of walks.