Managers And GMs Entering Their Contract Years

After a surprise playoff berth in 2012, the Orioles definitely wanted to keep manager Buck Showalter and executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette in the fold, today announcing that both men had been signed to extensions through the 2018 season.  As Showalter's previous deal only ran through next year, his extension removes him from this list of managers and general managers who are entering the final year of their current contracts and will be looking to earn themselves some Showalter-esque job security.  This list could be partially incomplete, as some teams don't release terms of front office executives' contracts.  Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for many of these details.

* Dodgers.  No manager in baseball is under the pressure that Don Mattingly faces in 2013.  Though the skipper has led Los Angeles to a pair of winning seasons while the club was going through the turmoil of the McCourt ownership sale, Mattingly will be expected to deliver a playoff appearance (at minimum) given how much money the new Dodgers' owners have poured into the franchise.  As respected as Mattingly is, the Dodgers could easily make an early managerial change if the team doesn't get off to a strong start.

* Rockies.  A team known for its unusual management moves (ex-manager Jim Tracy's "handshake deal" and the current split of GM duties between Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett) made another one in hiring new manager Walt Weiss, who is serving under just a one-year contract.  While this theoretically puts Weiss on the hot seat from day one, you'd think the rookie skipper would be given some rope given that the Rockies are coming off a last-place season and don't look anywhere near contention in 2013.  The Denver Post's Troy Renck examined Weiss' unique contract, a situation that Weiss himself embraces.

* Cardinals.  GM John Mozeliak is entering the last year of his current deal, while manager Mike Matheny is entering his last guaranteed year, though the Cards have a team option on Matheny for 2014.  You have to figure that neither man is going anywhere given Cardinals' recent success.  Mozeliak is a good bet to receive an extension before Opening Day and Matheny could also receive a new deal given how well the team performed in his first year taking over from Tony La Russa on the St. Louis bench.

* Pirates.  It's essentially a winning season or else for Clint Hurdle, as the Bucs' collapse down the stretch in 2012 extended the team's streak to a record 20 straight seasons with a sub-.500 record.

* Mets.  Terry Collins is entering his last season under contract at Citi Field but while the Mets have yet to crack the .500 mark in his two years as manager, one can hardly hold Collins responsible given the team's tumultuous payroll situation.  Collins is probably in no danger of being fired and I'd guess he'll be extended through 2014 unless the Mets' performance really craters.

* Braves.  Fredi Gonzalez is going into his last guaranteed year, though the Braves hold a club option on the skipper for 2014.  One would think it would take a real collapse for that option to not get picked up, as Gonzalez has a 183-141 record in his first two years as Atlanta's manager.  Of course, the team did famously collapse in September 2011 but the Braves rebounded to grab a playoff berth last season.

* Phillies.  Before Charlie Manuel signed his last extension, he said that he wanted to manage until he turned 70 and then would discuss his future with Phillies management.  Manuel's advancing age may be the excuse the team needs to make a change at manager, especially if the Phils have another underwhelming season.  If the Phillies are successful, Manuel and the team could choose to pursue Jim Leyland-style one-year contracts for 2014 and beyond if Manuel has doubts about how much longer he wishes to manage.

* Nationals.  Unlike many managers on this list, Davey Johnson is entering his last year as manager by choice, as his extension with Washington will only keep him on the bench through 2013 and he will continue as a team consultant in 2014.  It seems likely that this will be Johnson's last year of managing as he obviously could have gotten a longer deal had he wished, given the Nats' run to the NL East crown last season.  One of the top storylines of the 2013-14 offseason will be who gets the coveted job of Nationals manager, as few jobs in baseball have as much long-term potential.

* Mariners.  Eric Wedge and Jack Zduriencik are both going into the last year of their deals and following consecutive losing seasons, Seattle may have to see significant improvement on the field if either man is to be retained.  The announcement that Safeco Field's fences are being moved in could buy Zduriencik a little time, as he could be given another season to attract hitters to Seattle if it becomes clear that Safeco is no longer an extreme pitchers' park.  Zduriencik has been bold in his pursuit of hitting talent this winter, acquiring Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse on top of trying to trade for Justin Upton and going after free agents like Nick Swisher and Josh Hamilton.

* Twins.  Ron Gardenhire has won six division titles as Minnesota's manager but only has one playoff series victory to his credit and now has suffered back-to-back last place seasons.  That said, now-permanent GM Terry Ryan said last August that he didn't plan to fire Gardenhire, so we could see the Twins skipper get something akin to a one-year extension during Spring Training just so Gardenhire can avoid lame-duck status.  It may seem odd to extend a manager coming off seasons of 99 and 96 losses, respectively, but I'd guess that Gardenhire's track record has earned him some leeway.

* Tigers.  Jim Leyland signed another one-year extension following the World Series, which is how he prefers it at this stage of his career.  He and the Tigers seem content to handle things on an annual basis, and obviously the team is pleased with Leyland's recent results.

* Royals.  The pressure will be on Ned Yost as Kansas City has legitimate hopes to contend for the time in years.  The Royals exercised Yost's 2013 option last February and if the team gets off to a slow start, Yost could very well be fired as soon as late April or early May.  Conversely, Yost could be an early extension candidate if K.C. starts out playing well and management decides they're on the right track.

* Yankees.  Because the Yankees generally don't pursue extensions before contracts expire, manager Joe Girardi has little room to negotiate, no matter how much his record with the team may make him seem like a no-brainer extension candidate.  Hypothetical scenario: if Mattingly is fired by the Dodgers after a winning (but non-playoff) season and the Yankees don't at least win the AL pennant, just imagine how heavily the New York media will push the idea of the Yankees bringing Mattingly back to the Bronx as the team's new manager.

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