The Marlins are planning to bring back general manager Kim Ng, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. He adds that Ng and owner Bruce Sherman met last week as the organization charts out a plan for the upcoming offseason.
It’s not particularly surprising, as there’s never been any indication Sherman was seriously considering replacing Ng. First hired over the 2020-21 offseason, Ng has been at the helm of the front office for the past two years. Much of that time was spent working alongside CEO Derek Jeter and vice president of scouting/player development Gary Denbo, but both have moved on from the franchise in recent months. Jeter stepped down in February, while Denbo was let go at the end of June. Sherman, for his part, indicated he’ll remain in his role for the long haul. He tells Jackson he has “never considered” selling the team and is “more deeply invested in the team’s success now than ever.”
While Ng will hold onto her position at the top of the front office, Jackson reports that Miami is expected to make some changes both at the lower levels of the front office and on the major league coaching staff. Whether that extends to manager Don Mattingly remains to be seen, but the skipper is believed to be in the final year of his contract. Both Mattingly and the Marlins picked up a 2022 mutual option on his deal last July, but there’s no indication the sides have extended their relationship beyond this year.
Hired in November 2015, Mattingly has spent the past seven seasons running the show in South Florida. He’s the second-longest tenured skipper in the National League behind Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell and the fifth-longest tenured in the majors, but the Marlins carry a 431-576 record (.428 win percentage) over that stretch. The Fish were rebuilding early in his tenure, but they’d hoped to turn a corner after earning a playoff berth during the abbreviated 2020 campaign.
Competing over a full schedule in 2021 may have been too optimistic for such a young roster, but a 67-95 showing had to be a disappointment. Even more deflating, Miami is trending towards a similar result this year. That’s in spite of a relatively aggressive offseason (at least by the franchise’s standards), in which the Fish brought in Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler on multi-year free agent deals and acquired Joey Wendle and Jacob Stallings via trade. All four of those players have underwhelmed to varying degrees, and the Marlins have again trotted out one of the sport’s most punchless offenses. Miami entered play Monday ranked 27th in on-base percentage (.294) and 28th in slugging (.363).
Speaking with Jackson, Sherman acknowledged the team’s performance this year “has been immensely frustrating.” He indicated the club believed they’d be capable of contending for a playoff spot entering the season and admitted “we were not as good as we thought we’d be.” Sherman indicated they’d take another shot at competing in 2023 and weren’t planning to orchestrate another rebuild.
That aligns with recent reports that the club intends to again look for offensive help, perhaps by dangling some of its controllable pitching in trade. Asked by Jackson whether the lackluster early returns on the Soler and García contracts would deter the team from dipping into free agency, Sherman said “no” and indicated they’d “continue to explore all options” to talent acquisition. At the same time, he largely demurred when asked about the payroll, noting only that he “(expects) to continue to invest once again in our Major League payroll in 2023.”
Spending is an ever-present question for the Marlins, who haven’t exceeded $80MM in Opening Day payroll in any of the past four seasons (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts). This year’s roughly $79.6MM mark ranks 26th leaguewide. Miami has roughly $45MM in guaranteed commitments on the books for next season, in the estimation of Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. That doesn’t include potential arbitration raises for players like Wendle, Brian Anderson, Pablo López, Garrett Cooper, Stallings and Jon Berti, though. Some members of that group are likely to be traded or non-tendered, but the available payroll space could dry up relatively quickly if Miami’s not willing to push much past this year’s spending level. That’d leave a challenging task for Ng and her front office to construct a roster capable of contending for the organization’s first playoff spot in a 162-game season since 2003.