After the decision to fire manager Mike Redmond last night, the Marlins have officially announced that general manager Dan Jennings will succeed Redmond as the team’s new manager. Advance scout and former Mariners first base coach/bench coach Mike Goff will be the club’s new bench coach, while VP/assistant GM Mike Berger will assume Jennings’ former front office roles.
The decision was announced at an 11am ET press conference today in which Jennings, president of baseball operation Michael Hill and team president David Samson addressed the media. Owner Jeffrey Loria was not present for the press conference. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has a plethora of quotes from Jennings, Hill and Samson alike.
According to Hill, Jennings “is our manager for the remainder of the season. As we do with everything, we re-evaluate at the end of the season.” For the time being, the GM role with the Marlins will be considered vacant, but Jennings could return to that position at season’s end, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. Hill will head the baseball operations department, Jackson notes, and Samson acknowledged at the presser that Jennings is actually under contract through the 2018 season. Previously, Jennings was only known to be under contract through the 2015 campaign.
Samson said that the idea of Jennings taking the managerial reins was first generated on a conference call and then presented to Loria, who was amenable to the idea. Said Jennings of the hire, “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to lead this team that I had a hand in putting together.” Jennings was, however, quick to recognize that he would need some help from someone with more experience. “I said the only way I would consider it is if Mike Goff was removed from advanced scouting position and moved to bench coach,” said Jennings. Goff has also served as a manager in the minor league systems of the Reds and Giants.
There’s little precedent for such a move, although the Brewers just made at least a somewhat similar move by shifting Craig Counsell from special assistant to GM Doug Melvin to the role of manager. The D-Backs took a comparable course in 2009 when the moved A.J. Hinch from the front office — he was the team’s director of player development — to the managerial role after dismissing Bob Melvin. Going further back, in 1989 the Indians named John Hart manager for a brief 19-game stretch to close out the season before transitioning him to president of baseball operations the following year.
The move to hire Jennings continues a recent trend of managerial hires despite zero prior experience, but those hires have all been of former players. In addition to Counsell, the Rays’ Kevin Cash, the Twins’ Paul Molitor, the White Sox’ Robin Ventura, the Tigers’ Brad Ausmus and the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny are just a few examples of current managers whose first experience in the role is coming at the big league level. Those managers, however, had at least spent significant time in the dugout as players and, in many cases, as coaches of varying capacity as well.
Jennings has no dugout experience, so while he is a respected baseball mind throughout the industry, he’s certainly stepping into uncharted territory here. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal speculates that Jennings is taking the job at least somewhat out of a sense of obligation. Loria trusts Jennings a great deal and gave him an eight-year contract with the club’s front office following the 2007 season, Rosenthal notes, creating a strong sense of loyalty to Loria in Jennings.
The Marlins are currently still paying Jennings’ GM predecessor, Larry Beinfest, and they’ll also pay Redmond through the 2017 season and pay former manager Ozzie Guillen through the end of the current season. As such, the move from GM to manager for Jennings will prevent the team from taking on a financial commitment to a third manager, though it’s not directly clear how large a role that factor played in the decision.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the decision (Twitter link) after suggesting it as a possibility on Sunday evening. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale first reported that Goff would be the bench coach and Berger would assume Jennings’ previous front office roles (Twitter links).