Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon won’t be back as the team’s manager in 2016, sources tell Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had written just minutes earlier that McClendon was “likely” to be dismissed as the team’s skipper, adding that he’s still owed $1MM in 2016 — the final season of his contract with Seattle.
The Mariners will formally announce the decision today, per Divish, and the search for McClendon’s replacement will immediately get underway. While the team must go through an interview process, Divish hears that Angels special assistant Tim Bogar — the former bench coach and interim manager of the division-rival Rangers — is a favorite to take over in Seattle. Bogar worked with Dipoto in the Anaheim front office and is said to embrace analytics, which is something Dipoto is known to desire in a manager. Heyman noted last Friday that Bogar would be a prime candidate to replace McClendon should the incumbent Seattle skipper not be retained.
Heyman writes that the decision was carefully considered by Dipoto, in part because McClendon is quite popular with the current Mariners’ players. Robinson Cano is said to have such a close relationship with McClendon, Heyman adds, that Cano used his manager as part of his pitch in trying to lure Nelson Cruz to sign with the team when Cruz was a free agent last offseason.
McClendon was hired as the Mariners’ manager prior to the 2014 season after an eight-year hiatus from that role. After managing some dismal Pirates clubs in the early 2000s, McClendon experienced immediate success in Seattle, guiding the Mariners to a strong 87-75 record and finishing the year just one game shy of postseason play. That finish, along with the offseason additions of Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith as well as the emergence of Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, led to lofty expectations in Seattle this year. However, the Mariners’ rotation was hit hard by injuries to Walker, Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma, and other offseason pickups such as Justin Ruggiano and Rickie Weeks failed to perform. The Mariner bullpen also took a significant step backwards in 2015, leading to a season that was largely spent out of contention, eventually resulting in the firing of GM Jack Zduriencik.