Don Mattingly was pretty close to being fired in late May

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When the Dodgers hit their nadir in late May, people thought it was only a matter of time before Don Mattingly would be fired. The Dodgers poo-pooed that talk, saying that such speculation was unfounded and that Mattingly was safe and secure.  He is secure now thanks to the Dodgers going on an absolute tear over the past two months, but it turns out that, yeah, he was almost chucked aside.

Here’s Bill Plunkett reporting:

Dodgers mgr Don Mattingly might have been a lot closer to being fired than anyone realized at the time. Mattingly said today that Dodgers CEO/president Stan Kasten came to him “around” the time of the Dodgers’ series in Milwaukee in late May — when speculation about Mattingly’s job security was at its height.  “Stan said, ‘I don’t want to do something but if things keep going like this I’m going to have to,'” Mattingly said today. “I understand. You can’t just let things keep going. Sometimes you need to change the voice.”

Lesson 1: even front offices realize that even if managers aren’t making all the difference one way or the other that you sometimes change the manager simply because people expect changes to be made. Lesson 2: never believe what front office people say about a manager’s security.

White Sox sign Ervin Santana to minors deal

Ervin Santana
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Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana picked up a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to various reports Friday. Per Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com, Santana will make $4.33 million if he manages to crack the major-league roster this spring. Any official confirmation from the team is still dependent on the results of a physical.

The veteran righty hasn’t seen any action in MLB for some time. He was laid low by prolonged discomfort in his right middle finger last spring, and underwent a capsular release/debridement procedure that kept him off the mound for all but 24 2/3 innings of his 2018 campaign with the Twins. When healthy, however, he’s been as durable and productive as they come. Santana earned his second career All-Star distinction in 2017 and pitched to a 16-8 record in 33 starts with three shutouts, a 3.28 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 2.9 fWAR through 211 1/3 innings.

Barring further complications with his pitching hand, the 36-year-old should be a stabilizing force for the White Sox’ rotation in 2019 — assuming he can beat out southpaw Manny Bañuelos and right-handers Jordan Stephens and Dylan Covey for a back-end role, that is. According to FanGraphs, the club’s starters ranked worst in the league in 2018 with a collective 5.07 ERA, 5.18 FIP, and 3.1 fWAR.