The Tigers are one of several clubs still hunting for new management this October, and FanRag Sports’ John Perrotto reports that Marlins’ third base coach Fredi Gonzalez is the favorite for the job.
Gonzalez, 53, is coming off of his first year with the Marlins since 2010, when he was abruptly fired in mid-June after 3+ seasons as club manager. He compiled a 276-279 record in that span, guiding Miami to back-to-back winning records in 2008 and 2009 but failing to net a single postseason appearance.
In 2011, he filled another managerial vacancy for the Braves. He facilitated two 90+ win seasons in 2012 and 2013 and earned his first postseason win during the 2013 Braves’ NLDS run, but was later booted from the position after kicking off the 2016 season with an abysmal 9-28 record.
Despite the ups and downs Gonzalez has weathered over the last decade, his proven managerial experience and long-held ties to general manager Al Avila and Miguel Cabrera give him something of an edge over the rest of the Tigers’ candidates. Over the last several weeks, the team has also been linked to Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora, White Sox’ third base coach Joe McEwing and a handful of internal options, including former MLB manager Lloyd McClendon and base coaches Omar Vizquel and Dave Clark.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.