Robin Ventura’s first season as a manager at any level was a success, as the White Sox won 85 games and he generally received positive reviews, which is why Chicago offered him a one-year contract extension immediately after the season ended.
And he turned it down, Ventura admitted to reporters today:
It’s flattering and nice and everything, but in talking to [general manager] Rick [Hahn], we have two more years to do this. We have good communication and everything is fine. I think this is my contract. I was the same way as a player. I’ll worry about it at the end of it.
For them, I want them to have two years to think I’m still the right guy for the job for that to continue to go. It wasn’t anything that was a big deal, so I’m not holding out for anything or disappointed in not wanting to stay here. I think at the end of that, that’s when you talk about it. I’m not worried about trying to extend anything right now. I’m more worried with this team in this spring training than I’m worried about 2015.
As he mentions, there are still two years remaining on Ventura’s original contract signed last offseason. Ventura made almost $70 million as a player, so presumably he’s not hurting for money, and it’s possible he’s simply unsure about how long he’ll want to manage.
Ventura was hired after the White Sox fired Ozzie Guillen with one year and $2 million remaining on his contract, so extending a contract by one year hardly guarantees anything anyway.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.