Baseball sources say Angels special assistant Tim Bogar is a favorite to get the job. McClendon’s replacement will be the Mariners’ ninth overall manager since they last made the playoffs in 2001.
The offseason of change continues for the Mariners.
Lloyd McClendon won’t return as manager for the 2016 season.
The Mariners, based on the decision of new general manager Jerry Dipoto, announced Friday they have decided to part ways with McClendon after two seasons. A large portion of McClendon’s coaching staff was let go or reassigned.
“I just felt in the end, that I owed it to Lloyd and I owed it to the staff, to the players, to the Mariners organization and to myself to be honest in my assessment of where the Mariners were and where we needed to be,” Dipoto said Friday in a conference call with reporters. “I think this is the right decision to make. I believe in a vision moving forward, and I’m excited about starting 2016 now. In the end, I didn’t feel like it was a very good match between Lloyd and I. I respect his baseball. I admire his professionalism for having the players play hard through the final day, and I told him so.”
Bench coach Trent Jewett, third-base coach Rich Donnelly, outfield coach Andy Van Slyke and bullpen coach Mike Rojas were let go. Pitching coach Rick Waits and quality-control coach Chris Prieto have been invited to remain in the organization and will be reassigned.
Hitting coach Edgar Martinez and infield coach Chris Woodward were invited to return to the big-league staff in 2016.
McClendon, 56, moves on after compiling records of 87-75 in 2014 and 76-86 in 2015. His initial year as manager produced the Mariners’ first winning season since 2009. But 2015 began with lofty playoff expectations, and the Mariners did not meet them, struggling to play with any consistency. McClendon’s future became tenuous when the man who hired him, general manager Jack Zduriencik, was fired Aug. 28.
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McClendon is under contract for 2016 and will be paid just over $1 million next season, but Dipoto was given the autonomy by team president Kevin Mather and CEO Howard Lincoln to determine whether to keep McClendon or move on with his own manager.
Dipoto had been meeting with McClendon since being hired as Zduriencik’s replacement Sept. 28. The two met this week with the coaches and baseball-operations staff to discuss the organization’s future.
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Both men labeled the early talks productive. But in the end Dipoto decided to go with his own hire. It wasn’t unexpected considering Dipoto’s tenure with the Angels where he had a series of issues with manager Mike Scioscia. The disagreements over the implementation of analytics and ensuing power struggle led to Dipoto’s departure (owner Arte Moreno sided with Scioscia).
Dipoto downplayed the experience as a factor in this decision.
“Very little,” he said. “Obviously, we are all formed by our past experiences, and I’m no different from anyone else in that regard. But the fact that we are sitting here the Friday after the season ended and we are announcing this decision, it’s because I thought through all the different angles. The way the clubhouse would be affected, the way the organization would be affected, I incorporated many people in making the decision I felt comfortable with.”
McClendon’s replacement will be the Mariners’ seventh full-time manager and ninth overall manager since they most recently made the playoffs in 2001.
Dipoto said he has a short list of candidates. But what is he seeking from them?
“Energy, positive interaction with players, a good baseball background, a teacher — someone who can create a plan and lead people,” he said. “In many ways in today’s game, the manager’s position has become as much about creating an environment as it is about Xs and Os. I think too much is made of the metrics and how it will affect the game through analytics. It’s a little bit overblown.
“A lot of it is about the environment that you build and the people you surround yourself with. Leadership will be an important element to me, and energy will be an important element to me. Players need to be energized, to be inspired to do something. I’m not here to criticize the group that was here before. I don’t know them as well as I know others around the league. That’s something I will hold in high value as we go through this process.”
Though Dipoto must follow the hiring rules of Major League Baseball, including interviewing a minority candidate, baseball sources have said Angels special assistant Tim Bogar is a favorite to get the job.
Bogar was hired to be a special assistant to Dipoto when he was general manager with the Angels. Bogar is under contract for that job until Oct. 31. Before that, Bogar served as bench coach for the Rangers for the 2014 season. He was promoted to interim manager on Sept. 5, 2014 when Rangers manager Ron Washington resigned.
The Rangers went 14-8 with Bogar as manager. Bogar spent four years managing in the minors before gaining big-league coaching experience with the Rays in 2008 under Joe Maddon and then three seasons with the Red Sox staff. He served as manager of the Angels’ affiliate in Class AA in 2013, leading the Arkansas Travelers to 73-66 record. For his five years of managing in the minors, he compiled a 362-266 record.
Longtime Padres manager Bud Black, who attended high school in Longview, will likely be mentioned as a candidate. Former Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez is another possible candidate. He was a finalist for the managerial job with the Rays this past offseason and has some familiarity with Dipoto.
As for the return of Martinez and Woodward to the big-league staff, that has yet to be finalized.
“Any part of any invitation is discussing contracts, and we have not done that yet, but will get to that point,” Dipoto said. “I think both guys would like to return.”
Martinez was brought in midseason to replace Howard Johnson as hitting coach. The Mariners offense did improve with his attention to detail and daily hitters’ meetings. With a street named for him outside Safeco Field and an impeccable playing resume, it would have been hard for him not to come back.
“Sitting with him this week and listening to him talk about the players and listening to him break down hitting, clearly how invested he was about making the players better, really excited me,” Dipoto said. “I’m very excited the opportunity to bring him back. I think this is where he wants to be. That’s a good thing.”
Woodward, 39, is considered one of the better young coaches in baseball. He worked with Kyle Seager, who credits Woodward’s instruction for him helping him a Gold Glove in 2014.
“I felt like with Chris Woodward we were watching a real impact coach,” Dipoto said. “It’s hard in the big leagues to step in and make an impact early in your coaching career as a young guy like Chris did. I admire it. He’s made an impact on both young and veteran players. I really liked his energy. I felt like he was a very good fit moving forward.”
The McClendon move was the latest in a series of expected personnel changes for the Mariners with more likely to follow. On Thursday, Chris Gwynn, the director of player development, resigned. Earlier in the week, three special assistants to Zduriencik — Pete Vuckovich, Ted Simmons and Joe McIlvaine — and two people from the pro scouting — Duane Shaffer and Joe Nigro — were let go.
Recent Mariners managers
- Bob Melvin 2003–2004 156-168
- Mike Hargrove 2005–2007 192-210
- John McLaren 2007–2008 68-88
- Jim Riggleman 2008 36-54
- Don Wakamatsu 2009–2010 127-147
- Daren Brown 2010 19-31
- Eric Wedge 2011–2013 214-272
- Lloyd McClendon 2014–2015 163-161