It has now been a season and a quarter since Joe Girardi last managed in the majors, but the current MLB Network analyst told Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports this week that his plan is to return to the dugout.
The 54-year-old Girardi is arguably the most appealing free-agent manager available, having helped the Yankees to a 910-710 regular-season mark with six playoff berths and a World Series title (2009) from 2008-17. The Yankees then parted with Girardi on the heels of a season in which they took the world champion Astros to seven games in the ALCS, replacing him with Aaron Boone. Since then, Girardi has unsurprisingly drawn interest from teams in need of a manager. Girardi interviewed for the managerial vacancies in Cincinnati and Texas this past offseason, but he withdrew from contention for the Reds job, and the Rangers decided he wasn’t the right fit for their post.
Taking over in Cincy or Texas would have meant grabbing the helm of a rebuilding team, which Girardi has done in the past and seems open to doing again. Girardi managed the Marlins in 2006, and though they only won 78 games, he took home NL Manager of the Year honors. Reflecting on his time in Miami, Girardi told Cwik: “You know what, I had a blast with the rebuild I had in Florida. The unfortunate situation is that I didn’t get to see it through. I was only there for the one year. Working with those young players was rewarding. It was exciting. It was fun to watch them understand that they did belong at that level.”
A willingness to join a rebuilding franchise should only help Girardi’s cause as he seeks a return to the majors, but there are clubs with win-now aspirations that could turn to him. For instance, Mets manager Mickey Callaway is reportedly in jeopardy of losing his job in the coming days. If that happens, a return to New York could be on the table for Girardi. As with Callaway, Nationals skipper Dave Martinez may not be on the most solid footing given his team’s dreadful start. And it’s likely that long-running speculation surrounding Girardi and the Cubs will continue if he doesn’t find a new job by the offseason. Not only is Girardi an Illinois native and an ex-Cubs catcher, but Joe Maddon isn’t under contract beyond this year.