Don Mattingly won’t be back as Marlins manager in 2023

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI — Don Mattingly wants what’s best for the Miami Marlins, what’s best for him and what’s best for his family.

And he decided that means it’s time to move on.

Mattingly will not be back as manager of the Marlins next season, announcing that he and team officials have decided a new voice is needed to lead the club going forward.

Mattingly’s contract expires when the season ends. He said he met with Marlins principal owner Bruce Sherman and general manager Kim Ng to talk about the future, and “all parties agreed” it’s time for a change.

“I think always, you try to follow your heart,” Mattingly said Sunday. “And that’s what I do. Honestly, you know what’s inside of you and you try to be deliberate and let things work through, and you just follow your heart and you know when it’s the right thing.”

His short-term plan, after the season ends: Spending time with family at his home in Evansville, Indiana. After that, whatever happens happens.

“I am proud and honored to have served as manager of the Marlins for the past seven years and have enjoyed my experiences and relationships I’ve developed within the organization,” Mattingly said.

Mattingly, the club’s all-time leader in managerial wins by a wide margin, is finishing his seventh season with the Marlins. He’s 437-584 in Miami, with one winning season in those seven years – a 31-29 mark in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season when the team made its first playoff appearance since 2003.

“In general, the clubs I’ve had have always played hard,” Mattingly said. “I’ve always felt proud of that.”

His decision means a season that started with a big shakeup for Miami now ends with another. In February, Hall of Famer Derek Jeter – who had been Miami’s CEO, the first Black person in baseball history to hold that role with a franchise – announced a surprise departure after 4 1/2 mostly unsuccessful years that didn’t come remotely close to matching his success as a player for the New York Yankees.

Now comes the Mattingly move, which means someone else will be in charge when the team gathers for spring training.

“Donnie is one of my favorites,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said Sunday. “We go way back, played against him. He’s just a really good baseball man. I love him to death. I learned a lot from him, watching and competing against him for many years.”

The 61-year-old Mattingly has managed for 12 seasons, the first five with the Los Angeles Dodgers. All five of those Dodgers clubs had winning records, three of them making the playoffs.

The Marlins were hoping for similar success, but it didn’t happen as planned. Mattingly was the NL Manager of the Year in 2020 after getting Miami to the playoffs, but other than that, the franchise has been in a mode of constant rebuilding.

“We are fortunate to have had Don Mattingly leading our team on the field over the last seven years,” Sherman said. “He has represented the Marlins, our players, our fans, and the South Florida community with unmatched dignity and pride.”

Sunday’s news came on the sixth anniversary of the darkest day in team history, when Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and two other people died when their 32-foot boat slammed into a jetty off Miami Beach on Sept. 25, 2016.

The charismatic, exuberant Fernandez, who was beloved in Miami’s Latin community and touted as the future of the franchise, went 38-17 in his four seasons with the club, winning the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2013 and being named a two-time All-Star.

Fernandez’s death, which came at the end of Mattingly’s first season, set the Marlins back. But Mattingly guided them through, ending what was a 17-year playoff drought in 2020.

“Donnie’s just the consummate professional and a tremendous person,” Ng said during Sunday’s game. “He’s led the organization through some pretty tough times, particularly early in his tenure, then in the last couple of years with the pandemic and the lockout.”

Ng said the decision came after a series of conversations between Mattingly and the front office, with the soon-to-be-former skipper deciding not to pursue a new contract and the team deciding it wouldn’t be offering one.

“This year was very disappointing,” Ng said. “We had a lot of bad luck in terms of injuries. The record is not indicative of the talent that we have. We have to do a lot of introspection in terms of our processes and operations on how we fix that. I’m still optimistic about what we’ve got here.”

The Marlins haven’t spent a day in first place since Aug. 16, 2020. Outside of a few random April days, they haven’t seen first place in a regular 162-game season since June 2014. And this season will mark the 12th time in the last 13 years that they’ll finish with a losing record.

“I don’t know what his plans are moving forward but he will be missed,” Martinez said. “I wish him all the best.”

This much is clear: Mattingly’s revelation on Sunday wasn’t a retirement announcement.

“I feel great,” Mattingly said. “My mind still works. Some of you guys might argue differently at times, but I feel like my mind works good. My body feels great, still feel good. So, I don’t want to go sit on the couch, that’s for sure.”

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.