Russell Martin will manage the Blue Jays’ final game of the season

Russell Martin
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With the Blue Jays long-since eliminated from this year’s postseason, manager John Gibbons is ready to let the team cut loose for their last game of 2018. When the team faces off against the Rays on Sunday, veteran catcher Russell Martin will take the reins as the club’s unofficial manager. Per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, the title transfer is an informal one: Gibbons will still assume responsibility for the outcome of the game and add the win (or loss) to his own record, though Martin will be tasked with all in-game decisions.

It’s been a slow month for Martin, who was all but erased from the lineup as the Blue Jays focused on developing their cadre of young backstops this September. While the 35-year-old was originally promised a reduced role behind Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and Luke Maile, he hasn’t seen a single start behind the dish since August 29 and hasn’t played at all since September 3, when he appeared at third base in lieu of Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz. He’ll finish the year with a career-worst .194/.338/.325 batting line, 10 home runs, and 0.5 fWAR through 352 plate appearances.

Whether or not Martin has given any thought to a future in managing is unclear, though he still has another year left on his contract with the team (and another $20 million to collect as well). Gibbons told reporters that the catcher would make an “ideal” manager someday, but Sunday’s game won’t serve as any kind of audition on that front. Chisholm adds that it’s just a “quirky little fun thing” the skipper has decided to do and, to that end, it promises to be a fitting end to a difficult year for Martin.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.