“Continuity” has never been a word that has been widely associated with the Miami Marlins since their inception in 1993. Only two players—Luis Castillo and Jeff Conine—have appeared in more than 1,000 games for the franchise, only two pitchers (Ricky Nolasco and Dontrelle Willis) have completed over 1,000 innings, and only four managers (Lachemann, McKeon, Gonzalez, and Mattingly) have been in charge for more than 500 games. Directly compare those numbers with fellow '93 expansion team Colorado, and you'll see my point.
The constant and unrelenting turnover has largely been due to numerous ownership changeovers and mismanagement. Almost every controlling group over the past 26 years has been guilty of. Almost is an important word here, as the newest group being led by Derek Jeter—after initially purging many holdovers from Jeffrey Loria’s staff—are doing things differently.
If listening to fan feedback to improve the in-game experience and actually caring about the farm system wasn't enough evidence of that change in mindset already, the Marlins have now signed both infielder Miguel Rojas and manager Don Mattingly to two-year contract extensions with team options for 2022. These are the first two extensions handed down since the new owners took over in 2017.
Rojas is having a career year. The Venezuelan leads all qualified Marlins with a .285 batting average, and has set career-highs with 27 doubles, 12 defensive runs saved, and a .383 slugging percentage. Just as importantly, he has proved himself as a leader on this team, and has publicly stated that he is committed to both the city and helping young prospects grow as the rebuild continues. Rojas is already 21st in franchise history in games played, and could easily crack the top 10 while the likes of Jazz Chisholm and José Devers continue their development in the minor leagues over the next few seasons.
For Mattingly, who already holds the record for most games by a Marlins manager, his vast experience, calming influence, and leadership skills were determined to be too important at this stage of the rebuild for the team's overall record to cost him a job. Say what you want about some of his play-calling and in-game management decisions that may have resulted in a few more losses than necessary, but the current roster has played hard every single game despite being buried deep in the standings for the majority of the season. The front office recognizes that Mattingly is doing the best with what he has to work with, and the move to extend him shows that they have belief in the coaching staff and the work they are doing, which should boost confidence in the clubhouse and dugout.
Does re-signing an above-average, but aging shortstop and a manager who has failed to post a winning record with the team improve Miami's outlook? Yes, in the long run. A lack of stability has landed the Marlins in a decade-long tailspin, but these moves will help to change that and develop a strong culture built on leadership, dedication, and effort - qualities which both men display on a daily basis.
While it is unlikely that Mattingly and Rojas will still be with the Marlins when they are next fighting for World Series titles, extending their contracts lays the foundation on which future success will be built upon. The front office has an idea of how to win championships again, and these contract extensions demonstrate the commitment to that plan, even if an impact on wins and losses might not be evident right away.