Kim Ng, first female general manager, leaves Marlins for same reason Derek Jeter did

Kim Ng walks and smiles.
Former Dodgers executive Kim Ng stepped down as general manager of the Miami Marlins one year after Derek Jeter left as the team’s chief executive.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)
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Kim Ng has always been principled, earning the undying gratitude of three Dodgers general managers in 10 years as their top assistant. She also embraces the responsibility that comes with breaking ground and representing women in her chosen profession.

So her decision Monday to decline the mutual option on the last year of her contract as general manager of the Miami Marlins was a thoughtful one, not a knee-jerk reaction to a thunderbolt from owner Bruce Sherman. According to a person who has spoken to Ng but requested anonymity, Sherman told Ng a few days ago that he wanted to hire a president of baseball operations over her, which resulted in her discussing it with trusted colleagues before declining her option even though the Marlins had exercised their end.

Ng already knew Sherman is frugal, with the Marlins ranking 26th, 28th and 23rd in payroll during her three seasons as GM. She already knew the franchise has a reputation as dysfunctional, with Derek Jeter stepping down as chief executive a year ago, saying the direction of the organization “was not what I had signed up for.”


Two people with knowledge of Ng’s thinking said she wouldn’t walk away from her post as the first female general manager in the four major North American professional sports leagues unless another opportunity beckons or her relationship with Sherman had developed irreconcilable differences. Sherman wanting to add an executive whom Ng would report to certainly would qualify.

“Last week, Bruce and I discussed his plan to reshape the baseball operations department,” Ng said in a statement to the Athletic. “In our discussions, it became apparent that we were not completely aligned on what that should look like. I felt it best to step away.”

Kim Ng returns to Dodger Stadium for the first time Friday as the new Miami Marlins GM, using skills she picked up in L.A. to bolster a team on a budget.

May 14, 2021

Ng’s reason aligns with what Jeter said when he described why he stepped down. But her departure comes immediately after the Marlins enjoyed their most successful season in 20 years, unexpectedly making the playoffs after Ng bolstered the roster at the trade deadline with major contributors Josh Bell and Jake Burger.

On the day the Marlins clinched a playoff berth, Sherman was effusive in his praise of Ng, saying: “Not easy being in her role at all. Can you imagine that? First female GM in all of baseball history. Unbelievable. And all the moves, all the trade moves, have been excellent.”

Ng, 54, recognizes that her actions reverberate outside of baseball, that she is looked up to as a role model by young women and Asian Americans.

“Because if I didn’t, it would all be a waste,” Ng told The Times’ Dylan Hernández shortly after she was hired by the Marlins in 2021. “It’s hard to take this as just my life. Because when you have so many people telling you what an inspiration you are to their sisters, their daughters, their mothers, it’s hard not to recognize that. I don’t think I could ever take that for granted.”


She probably didn’t take for granted becoming general manager of the Marlins. She interviewed unsuccessfully for five other such openings while working under Dodgers general managers Dan Evans, Paul DePodesta and Ned Colletti, Jeter in Miami, and for Joe Torre in the Major League Baseball office.

Assistant coach Alyssa Nakken has interviewed for the San Francisco Giants’ managerial vacancy, becoming the first woman to do so with any team in MLB history.

Oct. 16, 2023

Jeter knew Ng from her stint as New York Yankees assistant general manager from 1998-2000 — all World Series championship seasons — and hired her in Miami.

“When Derek told me I got the job, there was a 10,000-pound weight lifted off of this shoulder,” Ng said at her introductory news conference in November 2020. “And then, about half an hour later, I realized that it had just been transferred to this shoulder. I do feel quite a lot of responsibility. I have my entire career. I know that I am quite visible.

“You’re bearing the torch for so many. That is a big responsibility, but I take it on.”

Two teams (besides the Marlins) are in the market for a general manager: the Boston Red Sox fired Chaim Bloom and Billy Eppler left the New York Mets. Both situations would afford far more financial flexibility than the Marlins.

Kim Ng realizes that becoming the first female general manager in a major sport is about more than baseball, and her idol Billie Jean King echoed the sentiment.

Nov. 16, 2020

The Mets, however, hired David Stearns as president of baseball operations, making the general manager post a clear second in command. Ng served as MLB senior vice president of baseball operations from 2011 until being hired by the Marlins, so a return to MLB headquarters wouldn’t be a surprise.

Ng hasn’t said anything negative about Sherman and the Marlins and probably won’t publicly. Her statement to the Athletic concluded with, “I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Marlins family and its fans for my time in South Florida. This year was a great step forward for the organization.”


The next step won’t include Ng, who decided to heed the advice her mother, Virginia Cagar, gave her long ago: “Don’t take a backseat to anybody.”

Kim Ng is the Miami Marlins’ general manager, making the longtime baseball executive the first woman and first Asian American to hold the position in MLB.

Nov. 13, 2020