The Marlins have not informed manager Don Mattingly whether he will be retained next season, but Mattingly said Monday he also will have a role in determining his future.
A source familiar with the situation said the Marlins have not made a definitive decision about whether to retain Mattingly, whose contract is expiring after this season. The Marlins like Mattingly’s demeanor and his ability to teach and mentor young players but haven’t decided whether to make a change.
One possibility that hasn’t been ruled out: The Marlins could try to negotiate a more team-friendly deal with Mattingly than his current contract that was negotiated by past ownership, a deal that calls for him for make about $2.5 million this season.
If he returned making that same amount of money next season, he would going into the offseason making more than all but three players on the roster.
Mattingly, asked Monday if he’s antsy about getting clarity on his status for 2020, said: “Not really. I’m in a pretty good spot in my mind. Obviously, I have to make a choice, too. We talked about getting together and I assume we’ll get together quickly, because you have to do a whole staff depending on what direction they want to go. I feel pretty good.”
Asked if he wants to return despite the pain of a rebuilding process, he said: “Well that’s a different question. That’s something to talk about now, and not really something to talk about publicly. That’s something you keep behind closed doors and have discussions with people. I do like the thought of young guys getting better.
“That’s really what I was thinking when I came here. That’s still something I want. But the losses are hard to deal with. Over time, having to chance to lose 100 games, we didn’t lose 100 last year, have a chance to lose 100 this year. You don’t quite know where the next year or two is going.”
The Marlins entered Monday’s game with a 51-91 record, third worst in baseball and worst in the National League.
So if the Marlins move on from Mattingly, who’s likely to be considered?
We’re told the Marlins aren’t necessarily looking for a new-wave analytics guy, but someone who has the ability to guide and teach young players.
Here are some names to keep in mind if a change is made:
▪ Trey Hillman: If there were Las Vegas betting lines on such a thing, Hillman might be considered the favorite if the Marlins make a change.
He joined the Marlins last December as their first base coach and infield coach, and this regime thinks highly of him.
He managed in the Yankees minor league system from 1990 through 2001 and also was with Marlins executive Gary Denbo in New York earlier this decade, serving as a Yankees special assistant for major and minor league operations.
Besides managing teams in Japan and South Korea, the 56-year-old Hillman managed the Kansas City Royals in 2008 and 2009 and until he was fired in May 2010, finishing with a record of 152-207.
An infielder at the University of Texas, he played three seasons in the Indians’ minor-league system but never made it to the majors.
▪ Joe Espada: The Houston Astros bench coach was the Marlins’ third base coach from 2010 through 2013 and remains highly regarded by some organizational holdovers. He certainly couldn’t be ruled out if a change is made.
And he crossed paths with Denbo in New York as the Yankees’ third base coach in 2015, ‘16 and ‘17. He hasn’t been a big-league manager but is probably deserving of the opportunity.
▪ Mark DeRosa: The longtime former big league player previously interviewed for the Marlins and Mets managerial jobs and a lot of people like him. But he’s never coached or managed. Since retiring in 2013, he primarily has been an analyst for MLB Network.
▪ Others: Though Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and Denbo think the world of Marlins special advisor and former Yankees star catch Jorge Posada, an associate said he values family time, and it would be surprising if he took the manager’s job, though it certainly could not be ruled out in the future.
Perhaps the Marlins could consider Carlos Beltan, who interviewed with the Yankees for the managerial job that went to Aaron Boone two years ago. Beltran has worked as a special advisor to Yankees GM Brian Cashman since December 2018.
A case certainly can be made for keeping the competent Mattingly. Professionalism and effort haven’t been issues with this team, and some teams have kept managers when they’ve come out of rebuilds, as the Philadelphia 76ers did with Brett Brown.
NY Post baseball writer Joel Sherman wrote a piece earlier this year in which some baseball people said Mattingly is the NL East’s best manager.
But new ownership sometimes will want to hire its own guy. And while Jeter, from all indications, has great respect for Mattingly, he wasn’t a Jeter hire.
Former Marlins president David Samson, a CBS Sports HQ analyst who has poked current Marlins ownership at times as a member of the media, tweeted: “Highly unlikely Mattingly will return. Look for a manager making far less than $2.5 million.”