Source: Marlins Hire Don Mattingly As Manager

Mattingly's deal is for four years. He will be the club's eighth manager since 2010.

Oct 29 2015, 11:54am

Rick Scuteri, USA Today Sports

The Miami Marlins have hired Don Mattingly to be their next manager, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who is not yet authorized to speak publicly.

Mattingly's deal is for four years, according to the source. He will be the club's eighth manager since 2010. The Marlins are thought to be waiting until after the World Series to make a formal announcement.

Mattingly will move to Miami from Los Angeles, where he managed the Dodgers for the past five seasons. During his time in LA he guided the team through a stunning bankruptcy filing and an ownership change, and led the club to a 446-363 record (.551 winning percentage). Mattingly retained his job when general manager Ned Colletti was replaced by sabermetric wunderkind Andrew Friedman last October, and he led the Dodgers to their third straight NL West title. But after a disappointing first round playoff exit, the Dodgers and Mattingly mutually agreed to part ways last week. Mattingly is still under contract with L.A. for another year, and the Dodgers said they would pay him the remaining money he is owed. It is not yet clear if the Dodgers will be paying part of his salary next season now that he has landed a new job. Los Angeles has not yet hired a manager to replace him.

It is also unclear if Mattingly will be taking his coaching staff from Los Angeles with him to Miami, including the Dodgers long-time, excellent pitching coach, Rick Honeycutt. Mattingly's bench coach, Tim Wallach, may be unavailable to make the move, as he is still thought to be in contention for both the Dodgers and the Padres managerial openings. The Dodgers have not yet made decisions on who will serve on the club's coaching staff next year. At the end of this season the front office told members of the staff they were free to look elsewhere for jobs in the meantime.

McCourt shakes hands with Mattingly in 2010, as the Dodgers unveil Mattingly as the team's next manager. Photo Credit: Paul Buck, EPA

In Los Angeles, Mattingly was revered by players for his handling of a combustible clubhouse, and respected for his own illustrious playing days. He became known as a players' manager who would protect his guys in the media, most notably the mercurial Yasiel Puig. But his in-game strategy—especially late in games—opened him up to constant criticism from fans and sportswriters. And given the lofty expectations in Los Angeles, his seat was always hot. While he embraced the advanced statistics employed by Friedman and his lieutenant, Farhan Zaidi, and was said to get along with the men, sources close to him say he grew tired of the constant speculation regarding his job status. After all, the man who hired Mattingly, Frank McCourt, is long gone from the organization, having been forced to sell the team after driving it into bankruptcy.

In Miami, Mattingly will inherit a much younger team than the one he managed in Los Angeles—and one that on the surface does not appear to be ready to contend for a World Series title. But they might not be that far away if superstars Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez have healthy, full seasons in 2016, and embattled owner Jeffrey Loria decides to spend money to build around them.

Loria grew up in New York and became a Yankee fan as a child. Mattingly spent his entire career entrenched at first base in the Bronx, and became one of the most famous—and beloved—Yankees of all-time. It is a safe that assumption that Loria developed an affection for the man decades ago. The men had become friendly in recent years.

Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Miami Marlins. Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell, USA Today Sports

Though the year the Dodgers were in bankruptcy was one of the darkest in franchise history, Mattingly has fond memories of managing a team that ran on a tight budget, and was forced to mix underpaid, over-achievers with young players who were not yet earning big bucks. Toward the end of his tenure in Los Angeles, he spoke to me about the challenges of managing the highest paid roster in the history of American professional sports:

"Players have to be self-motivated, number one. And they have to want to win.

That has to be the most important thing because they've already got the contract. They've already reached that carrot, financially, but now what else is there? There's gotta be more than that. Because there are a lot of people out there who are rich who aren't necessarily happy or fulfilled, and there's a lot of people that don't have money that are."

While Mattingly will not be under the same pressure to win in Miami, the chaos that comes from working for the meddling and temperamental Loria might be just as stressful. Five of the club's last eight managers lasted a season or less. But perhaps his years working under Frank McCourt have made Mattingly uniquely qualified to handle Loria's idiosyncrasies. The Marlins' owner promised to field a contender when his club got their new ballpark, which Florida taxpayers heavily financed. But just months after Marlins Park opened in 2012, Loria held a fire sale and traded all of his high priced players away for prospects and $160 million in salary relief. The Marlins finished last in the National League in attendance, and drew less than half of the Dodgers' average home attendance of 46,000, a league high. Loria came under fire again last year when it was revealed that his team received a mountain of money in baseball's revenue sharing system—MLB's version of welfare—despite being one of the most profitable teams in the league.

Mattingly's history of horrible timing could be an auspicious omen for Dodger fans. The Yankees won their first World Series in eighteen years the season after he retired, and rattled off three titles in four years. He later returned as a coach, but they did not win the World Series again until two years after he left for Los Angeles.

But Mattingly, who is seeking his first World Series ring as a player, coach, or manager, can find optimism in the following statistic: the Marlins have won the World Series twice since 1997. The Dodgers have not even been to the Fall Classic since 1988.