Derek Jeter, who takes over as Marlins’ CEO and co-owner next week, has quietly fired four members of the team’s baseball operations department, in the wake of dismissing five prominent team employees last week, according to sources.
And Jeter, once again, asked outgoing Marlins president David Samson to fire the employees for him, according to a source.
Jeter asked Samson to dismiss vice president of player development Marc DelPiano, assistant general manager Mike Berger, vice president/player personnel Jeff McAvoy and vice president/pitching development Jim Benedict. All were informed by Samson in recent days.
DelPiano’s dismissal is the most surprising of the group. Owner Jeffrey Loria lured him away from the Pirates before the 2015 season – where he had most recently served as assistant to the general manager - and DelPiano had worked in the past two years to help establish a new culture within the Marlins’ minor league operations.
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The Marlins’ farm system had been considered among the worst in baseball before the well-regarded DelPiano arrived, and the team still has fewer high-level prospects than most other organizations.
DelPiano also worked for the Marlins from 2002 to 2005.
Loria and his front office thought so highly of Benedict that they traded a player, pitcher Trevor Williams, to acquire him from the Pirates in November 2015. Williams was 7-9 with a 4.07 ERA for the Pirates this season and might have been the Marlins’ third-best starting pitcher this year if he hadn’t been traded for an executive.
But Benedict had mixed results in his role as a roving organizational pitching guru. He helped extract more from several pitchers, including Kyle Barraclough, but failed to do so with Andrew Cashner, Justin Nicolino and Adam Conley, among others, and one free agent pitcher he recommended from the Pirates, Jeff Locke, never helped the Marlins this season and was designated for assignment on July 4.
Berger spent four seasons as the Marlins’ assistant GM after serving as special assistant to the GM in Arizona.
McAvoy, who previously worked with Tampa Bay, spent two seasons as the Marlins’ vice president/player personnel and four overall with the organization, having previously served as director of pro scouting.
Jeter is expected to retain Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, indefinitely if not permanently. Hill has three years left on his contract.
But it’s unclear if Hill will retain the same level of authority. Jeter is believed to have interest in several others who could assume a high-level position of power inside the organization, including New York Yankees vice president/player development Gary Denbo or former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
Jeter has not informed manager Don Mattingly if he will be retained, but that is widely expected by members of the organization.
Last week, Jeter asked Samson to dismiss longtime special assistants Jack McKeon, Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson and Tony Perez.
Samson declined to comment about the four baseball operations dismissals, but when asked Thursday about being asked to dismiss the four prominent special assistants, he said: “Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.”
MLB owners on Wednesday approved Jeter’s and Bruce Sherman’s $1.2 billion acquisition of the Marlins from Loria, and the parties expect the deal to close on Monday.
Sherman and Jeter are not retaining Samson, who has said that Sunday will be his final day as Marlins president. The new owners are expected to hire an executive to run the team’s business side.