It was mildly surprising that the Miami Marlins gave Don Mattingly a contract extension. That’s not a negative comment on Mattingly. He’s a fine manager, he has had nothing to work with talent-wise and, all things considered, he has kept the Marlins on an even keel when, thanks to all of the losing, a team in their position might otherwise have a cancerous clubhouse.
No, it was surprising because Mattingly was hired while the team was under previous ownership and had a completely different crew in the front office. Teams often like to have their own man in the dugout at some point and, give that his contract was expiring, it seemed like the Marlins would want to go in a different direction. But nope, he got two more years.
Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that part of the decision to keep Mattingly on may have been that he was willing to take a pay cut:
Don Mattingly’s $2.8 million salary this season was believed to be the sixth-highest among major-league managers. Not only was the number too high for the cost-conscious Marlins, but it also was out of line with an industry trend in which teams continue to reduce managers’ pay.
To keep his job and get an extension, Mattingly needed to accept a significant pay cut. And in his new two-year deal, announced by the Marlins on Friday, that is exactly what he did, according to major-league sources.
Rosenthal says that, while the terms are not known, his sources are telling him that Mattingly may be making below $2 million now.
It may be easy to say “the Marlins are cheap” here, but Rosenthal’s reference to the trends in the industry is probably more on the nose. Teams have, increasingly, hired younger managers with no experience and have increasingly favored their willingness to follow the directions of the front office, all the way down to in-game strategy, lineup construction, and bullpen use, over leadership qualities and experience. If Mattingly left the Marlins, he’d be competing for manager jobs with ex-catchers or whoever who have never spent a day as a manager and who clubs could and would pay less.
Just as teams will do whatever they can to cut player payroll they seem intent on doing whatever they can to cut the payroll of the coaching staff.