Manager Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers parted ways on Thursday.
Reports state that the relationship between the genial manager and the highest-spending team in baseball ended amicably, as Mattingly wanted out. Although ESPN reported that the Dodgers offered an extension to the one year remaining on the manager’s contract, sources close to the situation told The Los Angeles Times that no formal offer came from the team to extend Mattingly’s contract.
In October 2013, Mattingly revealed that his contract option kicked in because the Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs, saying, “My option vested once we beat Atlanta. That doesn’t mean I’ll be back.” Disappointed with the way he had been treated, he added:
It’s been a frustrating, tough year honestly. Because I think when you … come in basically as a lame duck and with the ($230-million) payroll and the guys that you have, it puts you in a tough spot in the clubhouse. So we dealt with that all year long, and really what it does, it puts me in a spot where everything I do is questioned. Because I’m basically trying out, auditioning to say, `Can you manage a team or not manage?’ It’s a tough spot. To me it gets to that point where, three years in you either know or you don’t.
Mattingly’s undoing resulted from winning three consecutive National League West championships but never advancing to the World Series, despite managing baseball’s biggest payroll: a record $289.6 million. In his five seasons as manager, he went 446-363, a .551 winning percentage, but as ESPN reported, “among managers with a winning percentage of .550 or greater in the regular season and at least 15 postseason games managed, Mattingly has the second-worst postseason winning percentage (.421), behind only Grady Little.” The only post-season series the Dodgers won under Mattingly was the 2013 ALDS against the Atlanta Braves.
Mattingly has told friends he still wants to manage; some possibilities include the Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, and Seattle Mariners. The Marlins have already stated their interest in the Dodgers manager.
Possible candidates to succeed Mattingly include Dodger coaches Tim Wallach and Ron Roenicke, the team’s director of player development, Gabe Kapler, Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez, and former Padres manager Bud Black.
The Dodgers hired a new front office for 2015, including Andrew Friedman as president of baseball operations and Farhan Zaidi as general manager after Mattingly had weathered a frosty relationship with previous general manager Ned Colletti.
Mattingly also created a less divisive clubhouse; Clayton Kershaw said, “I’m in Donnie’s corner, too. I love Donnie, known him for a long time, played for him and Joe [Torre], the only two managers I’ve played for. Obviously I have a ton of respect for him. It would be good to have him back as well.” He was echoed by Adrian Gonzales: “He’s our guy and I believe in him.”