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Derek Jeter has been at the helm of the Miami Marlins for less than a week, and his tenure is already off to a rocky start.
Jeter appears eager to leave his mark on the struggling franchise, but he may have tried to do too much, too soon.
The 14-time All-Star was given some authority over personnel matters in the weeks leading up to the sale, and he exercised it by reportedly instructing incumbent team president David Samson to fire four special assistants to the front office: Tony Perez, Andre Dawson, Jeff Conine, and Jack McKeon.
It was an awfully flashy move for an incoming owner. Perez and Dawson are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Conine spent eight of his 17 seasons playing in South Beach, earning the moniker “Mr. Marlin.” McKeon is a retired manager who has over 1,000 wins to his name and guided the Miami to its last World Series title in 2003.
The suddenness of the firings generated some backlash, especially since none of the four were considered an integral part of the old front office regime, one of the least popular in baseball.
Now, according to a report from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, it seems Jeter has reconsidered, calling all four men and informing them of his interest in retaining them for 2018.
Jeter did not reveal his motive for firing them in the first place. While Heyman reports that a Jeter associate has suggested it was never his plan to let them go, it seems unlikely that Samson, an 18-year veteran of MLB front offices, would misinterpret Jeter’s wishes to such an extent.
Backtracking on a big move so soon after assuming control of the club isn’t a great look for Jeter, but it wasn’t the first hiccup in what has been a strange start to his tenure in the front office.
In particular, questions about Jeter’s plan for superstar outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will continue to loom large. Stanton has game-changing power and led MLB in both home runs and RBI this season, but he’s also signed through 2028, part of a $325 million deal he signed after the 2014 season.
When asked about Stanton’s future in Miami at an introductory press conference, Jeter was evasive. He said he didn’t know Stanton very well but acknowledged that a rebuild would be necessary for future success, according to ESPN. With two titles, the Marlins have won as many World Series as any other expansion team, but they haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2003.
Stanton has said he’s not interested in sticking around for a rebuild, and there seem to be a number of teams interested in trading for him, including the Giants, Cardinals, and Phillies. Already, Jeter has been thrust into one of the most compelling offseason storylines in all of baseball.
Throw in the fact that the Marlins ranked 28th in attendance this season, and Jeter has a lot of work to do. More clarity and less tumult from the front office can only help matters.