Don Mattingly won’t be back as Miami Marlins manager next season

MIAMI — Don Mattingly will not return as manager of the Miami Marlins next season, he said Sunday, announcing that he and team officials have decided a new voice is needed to lead the club into the future.

Mattingly’s contract expires at the end of the season. He said he met with Marlins principal owner Bruce Sherman and general manager Kim Ng to discuss the future and that “all parties agreed” it was time for a change.

“I am proud and honored to have served as manager of the Marlins for the past seven years and have enjoyed the experiences and relationships I have developed within the organization,” said Mattingly. “I look forward to spending time with my family in Evansville, Indiana and to all future endeavors.”

Mattingly, the club’s all-time leader by a wide margin in managerial victories, is completing his seventh season with the Marlins. He entered Miami Sunday with a 437-583 record, with one winning season in those seven years — a 31-29 mark in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2003 .

And it means a season that began with one major upheaval for Miami now ends with another. In February, Hall of Famer Derek Jeter — who had been CEO of Miami, the first black man in baseball history to hold that role with a franchise — announced a surprise departure after 4 1/2 mostly unsuccessful years that was not remotely came close to succeeding as a player for the New York Yankees.

Now comes the Mattingly switch, which means someone else will be in charge when the team gathers for spring training.

“Donnie is one of my favorites,” Washington coach Dave Martinez said on Sunday. “We go way back, played against him. He’s just a really good baseball man. I love him above everything else. I learned a lot from him by watching and competing against him for many years.”

Mattingly, 61, has made it to 12 seasons, the first five with the Los Angeles Dodgers. All five of those clubs had winning records, with three of them making the playoffs.

The Marlins were hoping for similar success, but it didn’t come as planned. Mattingly was the NL’s Manager of the Year for 2020 after helping Miami to the playoffs, but otherwise the franchise has been in a steady state of rebuilding.

“We’re fortunate to have Don Mattingly leading our team on the field for the last seven years,” said Sherman. “He represented the Marlins, our players, our fans and the South Florida community with unmatched dignity and pride.”

Sunday’s news came on the sixth anniversary of the darkest day in team history, when Marlin’s ace Jose Fernandez and two other people died when their 32-foot boat crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach on Sept. 25, 2016.

Popular with Miami’s Latino community and touted as the future of the franchise, the charismatic, exuberant Fernandez went 38-17 in his four seasons with the club, winning 2013 National League Rookie of the Year honors and finishing runner-up excellent-time All-Star.

The death of Fernandez, which occurred at the end of Mattingly’s first season, set the Marlins back. But Mattingly carried them through, ending a 17-year playoff drought in 2020.

“Donnie is just the consummate professional and a great person,” Ng said during Sunday’s game. “He has led the organization through some pretty tough times, particularly early in his tenure and then in recent years with the pandemic and lockout.”

Ng said the decision came after a series of discussions between Mattingly and the front office, with the soon-to-be skipper deciding not to seek a new contract and the team deciding it would not offer one.

“This year has been very disappointing,” Ng said. “We were very unlucky in terms of injuries. The record is not an indication of the talent we have. We need to do a lot of self-examination of our processes and operations to fix that. I’m still optimistic about what we have here.”

The Marlins have not spent a day in first place since August 16, 2020. Other than a random few days in April, they haven’t seen a first-place finish in a 162-game regular season since June 2014. And this season will mark the 12th time in the last 13 years where they finish with a losing record.

“I don’t know what his plans are for the future, but he will be missed,” Martinez said. “I wish him all the best.” Don Mattingly won’t be back as Miami Marlins manager next season

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