The Marlins have considerable interest in hiring former New York Yankees star Don Mattingly as their next manager, and Mattingly has interest in the Marlins after parting ways with the Dodgers this week, multiple sources said Friday.
Mattingly, 54, has emerged as the front-runner and the Marlins are expected to initiate discussions in the next few days. It’s premature to say Mattingly-to-the-Marlins definitely will happen, because the sides haven’t had a meeting yet and it’s unclear if Mattingly will have other options.
Washington and San Diego are the other teams searching for managers, but the Nationals do not intend to interview Mattingly, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported Friday. The Padres are not believed to have inquired as of midday Friday. Mattingly has said he wants to manage next season.
It’s likely that Mattingly — like most managers — would seek the authority to hire his own coaching staff, and the Marlins have publicly said they will grant that authority. The Marlins would like to retain infield coach Perry Hill, but that shouldn’t be an issue for a new manager because Hill is highly regarded around baseball.
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Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria holds Mattingly in high regard and helped arrange an event in which Mattingly was honored several years ago. Loria, who lives in New York, also has an affinity for former Yankees stars.
Mattingly spent his entire 14-year career with the Yankees, batted .307, made the All-Star team six teams and was named American League MVP in 1985.
Without much explanation, the Dodgers this week announced a “mutual agreement” to parts ways with Mattingly, who won 55 percent of his games in five seasons as manager (a better winning percentage than predecessors Joe Torre and Tommy Lasorda) and led the Dodgers to the past three National League West division titles.
But the Dodgers never made the World Series under Mattingly and the organization apparently wanted a bigger return on a $272 million payroll, baseball’s largest in 2015.
Dodgers general manager Andrew Friedman said after losing to the Mets in the first round of the playoffs, the Dodgers initially had the mindset that Mattingly would return for the final year of his contract and would be given a contract extension.
So what went wrong? “We kind of got to a point where, we felt like, mutually, that it might be better to part ways at that point,” Friedman said, without offering more details.
Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times: “It was definitely a mutual decision. I think as we kind of talked through the weekend and all different things, it just became, for me, clearer, for all of us, clearer, that this was the right time, best for me and best for the club.”
Since informing general manager Dan Jennings that he would not return as manager, the Marlins have interviewed six candidates for the job: Larry Bowa, Manny Acta, Bo Porter, Alex Cora, Phil Nevin and Rick Renteria.
Bowa is the only person who has been interviewed twice, according to a source, and those meetings went well, according to a Bowa associate. But the Marlins also had been waiting to see if Mattingly would become available. Now that he is, they’re poised to begin a pursuit.
▪ The Marlins on Friday hired Jim Benedict as their vice president of pitching. Benedict, who is well-regarded, was the Pirates’ pitching guru and assistant to the general manager.