Seattle missed the playoffs by one game, so this report from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune is interesting regarding the Mariners’ offseason pursuit of free agent Nelson Cruz:
The Mariners had a deal in place last winter with Cruz, then a free agent, for roughly $7.5 million in 2014 with a club option of about $9 million for 2105…before ownership backed away. The primary concern, which all clubs shared, was how Cruz, then 33, would respond after being caught and suspended as part of the Biogenesis drug scandal.
Still, officials with several clubs say they stopped viewing Cruz as a potential target because they expected he would bridge any differences with the Mariners. “I still don’t know what happened there,” an official with a rival club said. “We were told it was done. And it seemed such an obvious fit for both sides. There was risk, certainly, but…”
Cruz eventually signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles and led the league with 40 homers, hitting .271 with an .859 OPS in 159 games. By comparison, the Mariners’ designated hitters–mostly Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales–batted a combined .190 with 15 homers and a .567 OPS.
Not only would replacing their DHs with Cruz have gotten the Mariners to the playoffs this season, as Dutton notes they would have had him under team control for $9 million next season as well.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.