The Los Angeles Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly are parting ways after three straight trips to the playoffs but just a single postseason series victory.
As our end of season process began, we discussed the past year, our future goals, necessary changes, roster needs and other matters relating to next year's campaign. As the dialogue progressed daily, it evolved to a point where we all agreed that it might be best for both sides to start fresh. We decided to think about it for a couple of days and when we spoke again, we felt comfortable that this was the direction to go. I have the utmost respect for Donnie and thoroughly enjoyed working with him this past season. I want to thank him for his hard work and collaboration, as well as his accomplishments, including three consecutive National League West titles. I wish him nothing but success in the future.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who originally reported the news, also noted the Miami Marlins are interested in the six-time All-Star to potentially take over the same role.
Mattingly reportedly wants to continue managing, but he had lost long-term support in L.A. As a result, the sides have decided to go their separate ways, according to Heyman.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported the Dodgers had offered Mattingly a contract extension over the weekend, but the lingering uncertainty caused both parties to instead terminate the relationship.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported the Dodgers will pay Mattingly's salary for the 2016 season.
Mattingly said in the release:
I'm honored and proud to have had the opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers. I've enjoyed my experiences and relationships with the organization's staff and players throughout my eight years in L.A. After meeting with Andrew, Farhan and Josh, we all felt that a fresh start would be good for both the organization and me. We talked about several scenarios, including my returning in 2016. However, I believe this is the right time and right move for both parties. I'm still very passionate about managing and hope to get the opportunity in the near future. In the meantime, I want to thank the Dodger organization, the city and our fans for the opportunity and wish the club well going forward.
Mattingly said the more he talked to the Dodgers, the more evident it became that this decision was the best for both parties, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Mattingly added he "definitely wants to manage," according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
The manager said he had no agreement with the team not to discuss what happened, but declined to do so, according to Shaikin.
"Andrew, Farhan and Josh are great guys," Mattingly said, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. "They're going to do great things. I believe that the organization is in great hands."
As has been the case since the Dodgers' new ownership group took over in 2012, drama has been following the team around. That's expected to some extent with payroll over $270 million in 2015.
Mattingly has been on the hot seat for two years, dating back to 2013 when the club got off to a slow start.
Ownership showed faith in him after the Dodgers made the playoffs last year by giving him a three-year contract extension in January. At the time, then-general manager Ned Colletti praised the job Mattingly had done during his tenure, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
I think he's done a great job here. The last three years in the organization have been historic in a lot of different ways. We kept the baseball team steady and the credit goes to a lot of people, including the man who runs the dugout and the leader of the guys. This is well-deserved. He gets better and better.
Changes came to the Dodgers once again after they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2014 National League Division Series. Colletti remains with the organization but lost his duties as general manager because Andrew Friedman jumped from the Tampa Bay Rays to Los Angeles as the president of baseball operations.
Matt Snyder of CBS Sports wrote about a decision Mattingly made in this year's NLDS Game 5 that may have sealed his fate:
He pinch hits for Joc Pederson with Chase Utley. ...
Pederson's second-half on-base percentage was still .317. He'd already drawn two walks in Game 5. Utley had a .291 OBP since joining the Dodgers. Pederson was more likely to get on base.
Plus, Utley only hit eight homers all year. Pederson has light-tower power and hit 26 homers, six coming in the second half. Pederson was more likely to homer, too.
Mattingly has always been a hot-button topic in Los Angeles. He's not the most technically savvy manager, but CJ Nitkowski of Fox Sports 1 pointed out that it can't be easy handling the roster he was handed:
Despite keeping the egos in check enough to make the postseason in 2013 and 2014, the only thing that matters with such a massive payroll is winning a World Series. The Dodgers lost in the division series each of the last two years, including this season to the New York Mets with Zack Greinke starting Game 5.
The Dodgers' payroll will always be a focal point, but many high-salaried additions like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Alexander Guerrero were products of the Colletti era.
It's also a big problem when Yasiel Puig misses most of the season due to injuries and Joc Pederson falls off a cliff in the second half (.617 OPS). Mattingly was always fighting an uphill battle with the lineup.
Friedman is going to build this team how he wants. Mattingly was hired by the old regime, leaving him in a precarious position. He handled the situation as well as possible, but eventually things changed.
He's had enough success to warrant another job somewhere, with a 446-363 (.551) record. It will also be good for him to get away from the intense scrutiny that comes with having a lot of expensive and aging talent on the roster.