When Don Mattingly managed the Dodgers, anything short of a World Series championship was considered a failure.
Mattingly will almost certainly be free of that burden as the new manager of the perpetually rebuilding Miami Marlins, who have signed him to a four-year contract, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke Thursday on the condition of anonymity because the agreement isn’t expected to be formally announced until after the World Series.
The deal with the Marlins was struck less than a week after Mattingly’s split with the Dodgers, which was described as a mutual decision by the parties involved. As part of that decision, the Dodgers agreed to pay Mattingly his salary for the upcoming season if he couldn’t find work elsewhere. Now, “very close to all” of that will be paid by the Marlins, according to a person familiar with the details of the move.
The Dodgers will otherwise not be compensated by the Marlins, another person said.
Mattingly had a year remaining on his contract when he and the Dodgers parted ways, but his former employers are believed to not be looking into whether the Marlins tampered with him.
Mattingly compiled a 446-363 record over five seasons with the Dodgers, who have started their own managerial search. Potential replacements for Mattingly including in-house candidates Gabe Kapler, the farm director; Tim Wallach, the bench coach; and Ron Roenicke, the third base coach.
Mattingly is believed to want to take Wallach with him to Miami, as well as pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
As the manager of the Marlins, Mattingly will attempt to introduce stability to one of baseball’s most volatile franchises, which is under the ownership of notorious micro manager Jeffrey Loria. The Marlins have finished with a sub-.500 record in each of the last six seasons, a period over which they had seven managers.
The last of those managers was Dan Jennings, the team’s former general manager. Jennings, who had no previous managerial experience, was supposed to return to the front office this off-season, but was fired Thursday.
The Marlins had an opening-day payroll of under $70 million this year, the lowest figure in baseball. The Dodgers spent more than $300 million on player salaries.
What the Marlins do have is a core of talented young players. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton topped the National League in home runs last year and turns 26 next month. Right-hander Jose Fernandez is a former rookie of the year and second baseman Dee Gordon won a batting title this season.
Gordon was traded by the Dodgers to the Marlins last winter.
Speaking on Dan Patrick’s nationally-syndicated radio show earlier this week, Mattingly said of the Marlins, “It’s just an interesting place because of the young talent they have and the challenges that it brings with a young roster, with a situation that’s not going to go out and buy players.”
Of the Dodgers, Mattingly told Patrick, “We haven’t had the success in the postseason that a major market kind of demands. ... There’s a lot of noise around me, which is a distraction for the team and what guys are trying to do.”
Mattingly also made reference to how the Dodgers’ sabermetrically inclined front office has “their way of doing things.”