On Monday morning the Marlins held an introductory press conference for Don Mattingly. The club's new manager sat center stage, in between President of Baseball Operations, Michael Hill, and President of the Organization, David Sampson.
This press conference not only provided the media with a chance to meet Mattingly and ask why he ultimately took the job, but it also allowed for the front office to answer some of the questions that have surrounded the team since the conclusion of the 2015 season. With that said, here are my three main takeaways from what we learned on Monday:
Mattingly wants to be the Marlins manager for 10 years
Don Mattingly is attempting to do something no Marlins manager has been able to do in the franchise's young history: manage the team for more than four seasons. Since 2010 the Marlins have had seven different managers in the clubhouse. The position has become a revolving door within the organization and Mattingly hopes to be the one to change that.
Mattingly signed a four-year deal and said that he hopes to be in Miami for ten seasons. He then added that he hopes to be in the position for that long because he doesn't anticipate the club to continuously undergo their infamous fire sales while he is there. At the end of the day, the way a team performs is more about who is on the field rather than who is in the dugout. So if Mattingly is indeed here for the next ten seasons then the Marlins must have put together a pretty good run in that timeframe. If he's gone before his contract is up, then it most likely means that the Marlins haven't done much winning. Let's see Mattingly last at least five years before we start talking about double digit years.
Marlins don't expect to spend big on pitchers this winter
Marquee, front-line aces are set to hit the open market this winter, including Zach Grienke and David Price. The Marlins are expected to try and bolster their starting rotation, but don't look for them to spend big on a pitcher, via Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
"I would never have Jeffrey spend his money that way and incur more losses," Samson said. "Long-term position-player contracts work. I just don't think long-term pitching contracts work."
When projecting forward to the 2016 season, starting pitching may be the thinnest position for the Marlins as of now. They have Jose Fernandez at the front of the line, with Henderson Alvarez coming off of shoulder surgery behind him, and then a cloud of uncertainty in the no. 3 through 5 spots in the rotation. Tom Koehler, Justin Nicolino, Jose Urena, and Adam Conely are all candidates to fill those spots, but if the Marlins want to really straighten that position then they may have to look outside of the organization. Yovani Gallardo has come up as a realistic free-agent option, while Carlos Carrassco has come up some in possible trade talks. Regardless of how they do it, starting pitching is probably the no. 1 item on the Marlins shopping list this winter.
Jose Fernandez rejected a 'tremendous' contract extension
Last offseason the Marlins shocked a lot of people around baseball by locking up some of their young core to long-term deals. First the club came to an agreement with its superstar Giancarlo Stanton on a 13-year deal worth over $300 million. Then during spring training they locked up their young, promising left fielder, Christian Yelich, to a seven-year deal worth $49 million. The Marlins were also reportedly in talks with Adeiny Hechavarria and Marcell Ozuna about possible extensions.
This offseason the Marlins tried to secure their young core even more by approaching Jose Fernandez with an offer. Fernandez got back to the Fish with a two-letter word, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:"He was offered what we thought was a very fair, tremendous amount of money," Samson said.
"I don't believe he had any interest in having another offer [this winter], but we always will talk. He is ours for three years at a minimum. Building around Jose and [Giancarlo] Stanton is two smart things to do, but it takes two people to sign a contract."
It really isn't too surprising that Fernandez turned down a contract offer. He's coming off a season where he mad just 11 starts following Tommy John surgery. Fernandez was very good in those starts, but unless the Marlins completely blew him away with an offer it would make sense for him to wait it out at least another season. Of course the earlier he signs a deal with the Marlins the better, but at least the club realizes that signing Jose to a long-term deal is a no-brainer and is a top priority moving forward. I wonder what the 'tremendous' offer that the Marlins made him was, any guesses?