Although manager Don Mattingly is in the throes of his fourth straight trying season at the controls of the Marlins, it doesn’t appear his job is in jeopardy just yet. Mattingly will “probably” stay on through the end of the season, but it’s “likely” the team will replace him after that, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (video link).
The talent-starved Marlins have gone a league-worst 12-31 in 2019 and only mustered a 231-296 mark since hiring Mattingly, though it’s hard to fault him for the team’s failures. In 2016, Mattingly’s first year on the job, the Marlins won their most games since 2010 (79). However, the late-season death of ace Jose Fernandez cast a pall on the campaign and has continued to loom over the franchise. As they moved on without Fernandez, the 2017 Marlins – buoyed by an NL MVP-winning season from outfielder Giancarlo Stanton – did contend into the summer, but they tailed off in September to finish 77-85. As unimpressive as that record appears, it looks downright good compared to the direction the Marlins have gone in since.
One of co-owner Derek Jeter’s first acts of business after taking over the franchise from the loathed Jeffrey Loria was to conduct a firesale following the ’17 season. The decision to launch a full rebuild stripped the Marlins’ roster of a great outfield consisting of Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and starting second baseman Dee Gordon, all of whom were dealt in cost-cutting, farm system-bolstering moves. The Yelich trade looks especially egregious at the moment, largely because he went from an under-the-radar standout with the Marlins to a MVP-winning demigod with the Brewers. Meanwhile, the package the Marlins acquired for Yelich and team-friendly contract hasn’t yet yielded dividends in the majors.
Unsurprisingly, without their best outfielders and Gordon, the Marlins limped to 63 wins in 2018. Afterward, they shipped out another homegrown star – now-Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto – as he was unwilling to sign an extension with the club and was getting closer to free agency. That deal may pay off for Miami, which acquired a package featuring its No. 1 prospect, righty Sixto Sanchez, for Realmuto. That can’t be of much consolation to Mattingly right now, though. He’s in charge of a roster that got even weaker with Realmuto’s departure, after all, and the results bear that out.
Prior to his Marlins tenure, Mattingly oversaw much more respectable Dodgers teams from 2011-15. Mattingly’s time in LA could convince a manager-needy club to give him a chance if the Marlins do go in another direction sometime soon. Changing managers would be an especially interesting decision coming from Jeter, however, considering he and Mattingly are two Yankees icons who were briefly teammates and still stand as the two most recent captains of the franchise.