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Why Marlins might be a landing spot for Buck Showalter

Considering his connections with front office leadership, the fit makes a lot of sense for Showalter...if he doesn’t land one of the vacant MLB managerial jobs.

Miami Marlins Press Conference Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Baltimore Orioles announced the obvious on Wednesday: Buck Showalter will not return as their manager.

In 2018, Showalter oversaw one of the few teams that was worse than the Marlins (47-115, minus-270 run differential). The O’s finished last in the AL East for the second straight season after a stretch of .500-or-better campaigns from 2012-2016. As Camden Chat’s Mark Brown explains, Buck remained loyal to familiar players, even when their skills had deteriorated. He was also reluctant to consider any sophisticated analytics when making lineup decisions and in-game substitutions.

“It’s a sad and necessary day for Birdland,” Brown concludes.

Showalter owns a lifetime managerial record of 1551-1517 (.506 W-L%) and commands respect from just about everybody across Major League Baseball.

However, the role has changed dramatically since he was last on the job market in 2010. Despite a handful of MLB openings, it doesn’t seem that he fits the description of what teams want in the dugout moving forward.

That’s where the Fish come in:

Showalter and Marlins front office leadership go way back. He was a coach for the New York Yankees when Gary Denbo joined the organization in 1990 as a minor league instructor. Denbo is now Miami’s VP of player development and scouting. Showalter served as Yankees manager from 1992-1995, which included Derek Jeter’s first-ever call-up to The Show.

In an excerpt from “The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter,” Ian O’Connor explains how Showalter petitioned the late George Steinbrenner to allow Jeter to wear uniform No. 2. The franchise already had most of its single-digit numbers retired in honor of Hall of Famers, so Steinbrenner felt that the rookie was undeserving. Showalter had faith in his ability from the start, and Jeter didn’t forget that.

As ESPN’s Buster Olney suggested, a reunion could be in the cards if Showalter makes peace with the end of his managerial career. That’s no guarantee for somebody who’s been doing it for most of his adult life.

What would Buck’s role with the Marlins even look like?

Maybe something patterned after Tony La Russa and the Red Sox. The club signed La Russa last November to work under Dave Dombrowski as a vice president/special assistant. He has a voice in both their major league and player development activities. Vague, I know, but the gist of it is the Red Sox value his many decades of baseball experience and wanted him around as a resource to help their staff through personal and tactical challenges.

That addition worked out pretty well for them during the 2018 regular season.

At a phase in their rebuild when the Marlins expect to maintain a low player payroll (h/t Joe Frisaro, MLB.com), it would be encouraging to see those resources used to gain advantages in other ways. Showalter could be a real asset.