Don Mattingly’s days as manager of the Miami Marlins could be limited. The manager is in his final season under contract with the Marlins, and now in the final weeks and months of the four-year contract which has had him in Miami since 2016.
The Marlins’ situation is much different than it was when he signed the contract. Ownership has changed, a franchise player died and Miami is now in the throes of a rebuild. Winning a significant number of games has been a hopeless endeavor for Mattingly this season and his winning percentage as manager of the Marlins has plummeted to .437 entering a game against hte Los Angeles Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. on Wednesday in Miami.
For the first time since the season began, Derek Jeter addressed the status of his manager moving forward. As of now, there’s no definitive ruling on Mattingly’s future and conversations have yet to begin.
“There hasn’t been a decision yet,” said Jeter, who is in his second year as the Marlins’ CEO after leading an ownership group to purchase the team in 2017. “If I’m going to be honest with you guys, we were so focused on getting through he trade deadline and seeing what we can do, and, like I told you before the season started, at the end of every year we sit down and we evaluate all members of the organization, whether it’s the manager, whether it’s the coaches, whether it’s in player development or scouting, or the front office.”
With the trade deadline now past, figuring out Mattingly’s long-term status will move toward the top of the list of priorities for Jeter between now and the end of the regular season. While he didn’t put a specific timetable on potential conversations with Mattingly, Jeter said the 58-year-old’s status is “something that we need to talk about sooner rather than later.”
“We haven’t touched base and we’ll continue to talk over the next few weeks,” the CEO said. “We have no choice. We’ve got only like six, seven weeks left in the season, so it’s something we’ll talk about.”
Mattingly’s tenure with Miami (44-74) has been rocky. He guided the Marlins to 79 wins in his first season with the team, finishing fifth in voting for the 2016 National League Manager of the Year Award. Miami’s win totals, however, dropped in each of the ensuing seasons, to 77 in 2017 and 63 in 2018. With 44 games left including the game against the Dodgers (80-41) on Wednesday at Marlins Park, Miami is on pace for 60.4 wins and has a firm grasp on last place in the NL.
Jeter is sympathetic to Mattingly’s struggles in 2019. Prognosticators forecasted the Marlins as one of the worst teams in MLB in the preseason and they sold off some of their most reliable pitchers last month. Entering Wednesday, Miami is 3-9 since the trade deadline.
“When a team is at this point, I think it’s very easy for fans, it’s very easy for people to look at wins and losses, and that’s how they evaluate the job that someone’s doing, but there’s a lot of things to go into it,” Jeter said. “I think, yes, Donnie has done a good job, but, yet again, we’ve got to sit down like we do with coaches every year, as well. It’s, How do we get better?”
For his part, Mattingly said he hopes he is able to return for a fifth season in 2020 and beyond.
He is, however, understanding of any direction the franchise chooses to go, particularly because management has changed since Mattingly came to South Florida.
“I’d love to be back, especially if they want you back. You don’t want to be anywhere that you don’t feel is the best situation. You don’t want to get in the way of anything. If they think they want to go a different direction, then that’s something you deal with at that time,” Mattingly said. “We talk about it and we see where everything goes. It’s not something that—I’ve never tried to do anything in the media-wise like that, so I’ve talked about it from the very beginning: I’m comfortable with whatever happens and whatever way it goes, and I’ve said all along this is a place I came here to hopefully help turn this thing around and get it going in the right direction.”