LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don Mattingly won’t return as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers next year after agreeing with his bosses that he and the team needed a fresh start.
Mattingly said Thursday in a statement distributed by the team that it’s “the right time and right move for both parties.”
Los Angeles was 446-363 in five years under Mattingly, finishing with a winning record in every season and claiming the last three NL West titles. But the Dodgers have not reached the World Series since winning the championship in 1988.
The 54-year-old former Yankees star ranks sixth in wins among Dodgers managers.
After the Dodgers lost 3-2 to the New York Mets in a decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series, Mattingly met with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and Josh Byrnes, senior vice president of baseball operations over the last week.
“We all felt that a fresh start would be good for both the organization and me,” Mattingly said. “We talked about several scenarios, including my returning in 2016. However, I believe this is the right time and right move for both parties.”
The franchise with baseball’s highest payroll, a record $289.6 million as of the end of the regular season, managed just two playoff victories before losing to the Mets.
“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,” Friedman said. “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.”
Los Angeles reached the postseason in three straight years for the first time but the Dodgers won just one series, beating Atlanta in the Division Series two years ago, while losing three.
Mattingly was a holdover from the previous front office regime, having been manager Joe Torre’s hand-picked successor in 2010 after he coached under the Hall of Famer for seven seasons in New York and Los Angeles.
Mattingly had one year remaining on his contract. He returned to his offseason home in Evansville, Indiana, earlier in the week.
“I’m honored and proud to have had the opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my experiences and relationships with the organization’s staff and players throughout my eight years in LA.”
Mattingly worked this season under the new tandem of Friedman and Zaidi, who had greater hands-on management than what Mattingly was used to under former GM Ned Colletti.
Between Zaidi’s expertise in advanced analytics and Friedman’s reputation for building a roster by crunching numbers, Mattingly had a plethora of data at his disposal this season.
“His preparation has been tremendous,” Zaidi said before the playoffs began. “We see how thorough he is.”
But the end result was still the same.
The laidback Mattingly had the support of his players, who appreciated his support and positive attitude.
“He’s our guy and I believe in him,” first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said last week.
Left fielder Kike Hernandez said, “He had nothing to do with this.”
Mattingly said he still wants to manage. His name surfaced last month for the Miami Marlins’ opening. There also are current managerial openings in San Diego, Seattle and Washington.
While there was speculation the Dodgers would need to make a deep postseason run for Mattingly to keep his job, the front office was publicly supportive of him.
“I think he’s done a very nice job this season with the roster turnover we’ve had and mixing and matching players,” Zaidi said this month. “If you’re going to tell me a team’s success is solely driven by the manager I just don’t think that’s true.”
Mattingly’s departure is the latest within the franchise.
Stan Conte resigned last weekend after nine years directing the team’s medical staff. Organist Nancy Bea Hefley retired at season’s end after 28 years with the team.
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