Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik says he was going to bring manager Eric Wedge back on a one-year extension for 2014 and was “quite surprised” this morning when Wedge tendered his resignation. Zduriencik had floated the idea of a one-year extension to Wedge after last season and was rebuffed by the manager, who felt the team’s ongoing rebuilding plan required that a longer commitment be made to him.
Nevetheless, Zduriencik today said he’s surprised that Wedge still won’t take the offer. He said he and Wedge had numerous discussions through the course of the year with regards to his contract.
“I was looking forward to having Eric back,” Zduriencik said. “But through his series of thought processes he decided this wasn’t going to work and he made his decision.”
Zduriencik said there were never any internal team discussions about not having Wedge come back, even though the team waited up to this point without putting the extension back on the table. Zduriencik said there were things the team needed to first discuss with Wedge and that this was supposed to happen on Monday, when the two were to meet.
But Wedge had become increasingly irritated with his lame duck status, especially after a report several weeks ago by radio host Steve Sandmeyer that the Mariners were planning to fire him at season’s end. Nobody from the team ever went public to refute the report. Indeed, when pressed for comments on the future of Wedge and Zduriencik at the time, team officials declined all comment.
Wedge interpreted their silence as another vote of non-confidence and felt the team was allowing him to twist in the wind all month.
But Zduriencik insists he was always going to bring Wedge back and expected that he’d go along with the idea.
“We never had any reason to think Eric wasn’t coming back,” Zduriencik said. “I think Eric had known I was in his corner and would like to have him back. But again, there were things we were going to talk through. I think there were a lot of things he and I were going to talk through in relation to the ballclub and the direction…but again, the thought process of not bringing Eric back just wasn’t there.”
Zdureincik admitted that, even had they discussed the extension further: “Eric’s desire was different than what we would have ended up at.”
I asked Zduriencik whether he felt it was important, during a rebuilding plan, to have a manager on-board for more than just one year.
“I guess you could make that argument that it’s important,” he said. “I’m a big believer in that. But you could also make the argument that players are players. They’re going to go out there and play baseball and they’re going to play no matter who the manager is. I think it’s important to have continuity but I also think players are players and instruction is important and as we put this next staff together, depending on how it goes, we will have guys on this staff that I’m excited about. I know that. And they’ll be doing what’s best for these kids and these kids will play baseball, they’ll just move on.”
And so, Zduriencik is now looking for a third manager in five years. As to his own contract status — said to be for just one more year at present — he doesn’t anticipate it being a hinderance when it comes to attracting top managerial candidates.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a big issue,” he said. “I really don’t. Like I said, a contract’s a contract. I look at it this way. I’m here doing my job. I’m going to do my job until I’m told ‘Jack, it’s the end.’ So, whether I’m on a one-year deal, a two-year deal, a three-year deal, whatever the case is, it doesn’t change what I’m doing. I think candidates that come in here, they’re going to look at the general manager and the realtionship that we have with them.
“But they’re also going to look at the players, the potential that we have here. And I think from that standpoint, I trust those above me that ‘Hey, if we do a good job and continue to do what we’re doing, then we’ll be here for a while.’ Whether it’s on a one-year deal forever or whether it’s an extension. You do your job. That’s just the way you look at it.”