Managers & Top Front Office Executives On Expiring Contracts
Now that the new year is upon us, it could also conceivably be the last year for several managers or lead front office executives (i.e. president of baseball operations, general manager, chief baseball officer, or whatever title a club bestows upon its top baseball decision-maker) in their current jobs if their teams don’t enjoy some success in 2022. With this in mind, here is the list of team personnel facing particular pressure — the managers and top execs who are entering the last guaranteed year of their contracts.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Firstly, some clubs don’t publicly disclose specifics of management contracts, or even whether or not an employee has signed an extension until weeks or months after the fact. It could be that some of the names mentioned are already locked up beyond 2022, or perhaps have already signed extensions in the last few weeks that won’t be made official until after the lockout. While transactions involving Major League players are prohibited during the lockout, teams are free to proceed with normal business involving team personnel, so some club might look to handle other internal matters in advance of the transactional avalanche that will come when the lockout finally ends.
Second of all, any number of factors beyond just contract status can influence an employee’s job status, and sometimes on-field success isn’t enough (just ask former Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt). However, extra years on a contract is usually the simplest way to gauge just how much leeway a manager or front office boss has, barring something unforeseen. It’s probably safe to assume that most or all of the names listed wouldn’t mind a little extra job security, if for no other reason than to avoid a season of media questions about their future, or the perception of any “lame duck” status from their own players or staff.
Thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for reference information on some of these contracts. Onto the list…
Angels: Owner Arte Moreno is a huge Joe Maddon fan, but since bringing Maddon back to the organization on a three-year, $12MM contract, the Halos have recorded two losing seasons. In fairness to Maddon, he has rarely gotten to deploy an Angels roster at the peak of its potential, as Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani (who barely pitched in 2020) have been injured or limited for large chunks of Maddon’s tenure. Since the veteran skipper turns 68 in February, there might also be some question about just how much longer Maddon himself wants to keep up with the grind of a regular-season schedule, especially after the challenges of managing a team through the pandemic. With the clock ticking on Ohtani’s team control and Trout’s prime, another losing season might inspire some changes in Anaheim.
Astros: Back in November, Dusty Baker received a one-year contract extension that takes the veteran skipper through the 2022 campaign. It isn’t the type of job security you’d expect for a manager who just took his team to a World Series appearance, but Houston appears content to go year-to-year with Baker, perhaps owing to his age (Baker turns 73 in June).
Athletics: Billy Beane has been running Oakland’s front office since 1997, and while the exact length of his current contract isn’t known, it is probably safe to assume Beane will have his job as long as he wishes. Beane withdrew his name from consideration from the Mets’ search when New York showed interest in Beane’s services this past fall, and for now, it seems as though he and GM David Forst are preparing to lead the A’s through yet another spin of the payroll-cutting “cycle” so familiar to Oakland fans. Since Beane also owns a minority share of the team, there would be an added layer of complication for the A’s in removing Beane if they did decide to make a change.
Blue Jays: Manager Charlie Montoyo was initially signed to a three-year deal with a club option for 2022, and the Jays exercised that option last March. The club might have been taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach by not negotiating any more additional years with Montoyo, but since Toronto won 91 games last season, Montoyo would now seem like a prime candidate for a longer-term deal. Montoyo has won praise both for the Blue Jays’ success over the last two seasons, and his steady leadership over a difficult period, with the pandemic forcing the Jays to play “home” games in Buffalo and Dunedin before finally returning to Toronto last July.
Brewers: David Stearns’ contract has been the subject of great speculation in recent months, as the Mets were focused on poaching the president of baseball operations away from Milwaukee. With Billy Eppler now inked to a four-year contract as the Mets’ new GM, it could be that Amazins could be moving away from Stearns, but several other teams might have interest if Stearns is indeed available anytime soon. The exact length or nature of Stearns’ contract isn’t known, as 2022 might be his last guaranteed year, but there may be a vesting option of some type in place that would keep Stearns with the Brew Crew through the 2023 season. For his own part, Stearns has said that he is happy with the Brewers, and owner Mark Attanasio obviously covets his PBO, as Attanasio has rejected all overtures from the Mets and other teams to interview Stearns. There seems to be plenty of leverage on Stearns’ part to either work out another extension with the Brewers, or perhaps wait out the remainder of his deal in Milwaukee and then test the market for a new challenge.
Cubs: 2022 is the last guaranteed year of David Ross’ contract, though the Cubs have a club option for 2023. It has been a tumultuous two years to begin Ross’ managerial career, between the pandemic, a first-place NL Central finish in 2020, and then a 91-loss season in 2021 after the Cubs went all-in on a rebuild. However, the acquisitions of Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley are signs that Chicago is looking to compete next season, leaving Ross with the twin challenges of mentoring young talent and also winning some ballgames. Given the long relationship between Ross and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, it doesn’t seem like Ross’ job is in much jeopardy, and an extension (even if just an early call on that 2023 option) wouldn’t be a shock.
Diamondbacks: Manager Torey Lovullo spent much of the 2021 season as a lame duck before signing an extension in September that covers 2022 and also provides the D’Backs with a club option for 2023. Given how poorly the Diamondbacks have played over the last two seasons, this new deal gives the Snakes some flexibility to move on from Lovullo next fall, but obviously Lovullo wasn’t considered the reason for the team’s struggles. There is also some uncertainty about Mike Hazen’s contract status, as the GM signed new multi-year contract of undisclosed length back in 2019, extending Hazen beyond 2020 (the endpoint of his original deal). If Hazen’s contract is only guaranteed through 2022 and Arizona has another rough season next year, ownership might opt to replace both Hazen and Lovullo and start fresh.
Dodgers: 2022 is Dave Roberts’ last year under contract, as his current deal doesn’t contain any team options. While Roberts’ postseason decision-making has sometimes been called into question by Los Angeles fans, he hardly bears sole responsibility, and it is also hard to argue with Roberts’ track record — a 542-329 record and a World Series title since taking the managerial job in November 2015. There hasn’t been any indication that the Dodgers are dissatisfied with Roberts’ work, so another extension could be in the pipeline.
Guardians: While Terry Francona isn’t under contract beyond 2022, but team owner Paul Dolan has said that “I feel like we’re now in a situation where he’s going to be here until he decides not to manage.” This puts the ball squarely in Francona’s court, as the veteran manager plans to return at least through next season after health problems limited his participation in both 2020 and 2021. Also, the contract details of president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti aren’t publicly known, but there hasn’t been any indication that Dolan is looking move on from the longtime executive.
Marlins: Don Mattingly’s 2022 club option was picked up over the summer, putting “Donnie Baseball” in line for what will be his seventh season managing the Fish. Much of that time has been spent overseeing a rebuilding team, but with Miami reaching the postseason in 2020 and now making some aggressive offseason moves, Mattingly and his staff will be facing some higher expectations. The Marlins could opt to let at least some of the season play out before deciding on Mattingly’s future, or if they’re confident that Mattingly is the one to lead the Fish into an era of winning baseball, they could have some talks about a longer-term deal this spring.
Orioles: Executive VP/general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde are each entering their fourth season with the team. Hyde signed an extension last year that covers at least the 2022 season, while the initial length of Elias’ contract wasn’t known. Even if 2022 is the last season of Elias’ deal, it doesn’t seem like Orioles ownership would cut him loose before the results of the club’s extensive rebuild have been at all realized. The same could be said for Hyde, though it wouldn’t be the first time a rebuilding team has employed one manager to shepherd it through the tough years, and then hired another skipper when the club began to turn the corner towards contention.
Phillies: Joe Girardi is now entering the last guaranteed season of his initial three-year contract, and the Phillies hold a club option on the former World Series-winning manager for 2023. An 82-80 record represented Philadelphia’s first winning season since 2011, though it was still an underwhelming result for a team heavy in high-priced stars. Girardi himself hasn’t received much too much blame (at least by Philadelphia standards) for the Phils’ lack of success, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is on record as saying that Girardi “did a good job for us” last year. There are some parallels to Maddon’s situation, as both he and Girardi are veteran skippers under win-now pressure for big-market teams, except Girardi doesn’t have the longstanding ties to Phillies ownership as Maddon does in Anaheim. With the club option in mind, the Phils might see what 2022 entails before deciding on an extension for Girardi.
Pirates: This is a speculative entry, since the terms of Derek Shelton’s deal weren’t released when he was hired as Pittsburgh’s manager in November 2019. If Shelton was given a three-year contract (a pretty standard pact for a first-time manager), he’d now be entering his last guaranteed year. Since the Pirates are still rebuilding, Shelton isn’t under much pressure to start winning games immediately, so it doesn’t seem at this point like his job is in any danger.
Rangers: Another speculative case, as president of baseball operations Jon Daniels signed a contract extension back in June 2018, lengthening a deal that was set to expire at the end of the 2018 campaign. If that extension happened to be a four-year pact, then, Daniels has only one year remaining. While Daniels has spent much of his most recent contract rebuilding the roster, this winter’s massive spending splurge is a clear sign that Texas is ready to start winning. One would guess that ownership wouldn’t sign off on hundreds of millions in player contracts if they had any misgivings about keeping Daniels around, so another extension wouldn’t be a surprise. Daniels is quietly one of baseball’s longest-tenured front office bosses, as he has been running the Rangers’ baseball ops department since October 2005, when he was only 28 years old.
Rockies: Bud Black is entering his sixth and what might be his final year as Rockies manager, as his three-year contract expires at season’s end. New GM Bill Schmidt has indicated that the team might explore a new deal with Black, and since Schmidt is a longtime member of Colorado’s front office, the Rockies might not have the disconnect that sometimes exists between an incumbent skipper and a new front office boss who wants their own hire running the dugout. Even though owner Dick Monfort is known for his loyalty to familiar employees, managers don’t have quite as much slack — both Walt Weiss and Jim Tracy (Black’s predecessors) resigned from the Rockies’ managerial post after four seasons apiece.
Royals: Like Shelton, Mike Matheny was also hired following the 2019 season, so this would be the final guaranteed year of Matheny’s deal if he signed a three-year term. That said, Matheny might have gotten a longer deal, owing to his past experience as manager of the Cardinals, and due to his standing as something of a manager-in-waiting in Kansas City with Ned Yost on the verge of retirement. The Royals were aggressive last winter but managed only a 74-88 record in 2021, and if the team again doesn’t take a step forward, there could be some whispers about whether or not Matheny is the right choice for the manager’s job. Then again, president of baseball operations Dayton Moore has traditionally been big on institutional loyalty, so Matheny’s job isn’t necessarily on the line if the Royals don’t at least crack the .500 mark.
Twins: Manager Rocco Baldelli received a four-year contract with multiple club options when he was hired following the 2018 season, so Baldelli is now entering his final guaranteed year. The existence of those club options puts Baldelli under team control through at least 2024, yet while Baldelli isn’t a true lame duck, he does face some pressure in getting the Twins on track following a very disappointing season. If the Twins underachieve again, Baldelli might be on the hot seat, though he did lead Minnesota to the postseason in his first two years as skipper.
White Sox: Another team that doesn’t publicize management contracts, both executive VP Kenny Williams and GM Rick Hahn signed extensions in 2017 of unspecified length. Since that time, the duo has overseen a rebuild and a payroll increase that has thus far resulted in playoff appearances in both 2020 and 2021, though the White Sox have yet to win a series. Though owner Jerry Reinsdorf is definitely aiming to capture another championship, it seems like it would take a major collapse for him to think about replacing Williams or Hahn, who have each been with the franchise for decades. Depending on their contractual status, Williams and Hahn could even be in line for extensions, if such deals haven’t already quieted been inked.
Yankees: As any Bronx fan can tell you, the Yankees have gone 12 seasons without as much as an AL pennant, though the club has reached the playoffs nine times in that span and always posted winning records. Despite this relative title drought by Yankees standards, owner Hal Steinbrenner appears satisfied with the work done by longtime GM Brian Cashman, and there doesn’t appear to be much chance of a front office change. It may be quite a while before we hear whether or not Cashman is officially staying, as several of his contracts have been settled either around the end of the season, or sometimes well into the offseason. Cashman’s last deal (a five-year, $25MM contract covering the 2018-22 campaigns) wasn’t fully put into place until December 2017.