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Marlins announce Mattingly, Rojas extensions

Skipper signs two-year deal with mutual option for 2022
@JoeFrisaro
September 20, 2019

MIAMI -- The Marlins are committed to building through their Minor League system, and Don Mattingly has long shared the organization’s vision. Together, they will be moving forward in hopes of turning the fortunes of the franchise around. On Friday, the Marlins announced Mattingly has signed a two-year contract extension

MIAMI -- The Marlins are committed to building through their Minor League system, and Don Mattingly has long shared the organization’s vision.

Together, they will be moving forward in hopes of turning the fortunes of the franchise around. On Friday, the Marlins announced Mattingly has signed a two-year contract extension with a mutual option for 2022.

“Donnie believes in our vision,” Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter said at a news conference at Marlins Park. “He believes in our direction, and he's all in. He has shown a lot of patience with our young, developing team.”

The news puts to end speculation that Mattingly’s tenure with the Marlins could be coming to an end. The 58-year-old was in the final year of his four-year deal, and until recently, management had not made its intentions clear if they would stay with Mattingly or move in another direction.

To Mattingly, staying on for at least a couple of more years was an easy decision once Jeter made it clear both sides were on the same page.

“The last [meeting] we had was kind of like 'Jerry Maguire,'” Mattingly said. “He kind of had me at, ‘Hello.’ From the standpoint of showing that he believed in me and felt like I was the right guy for this job.”

Friday was a busy news day for the Marlins before they faced the Nationals.

The team also announced shortstop Miguel Rojas had signed a two-year contract extension, which includes an option for 2022.

“This is an emotional day because I never thought I was going to be in this position until a couple of weeks ago when I talked to Derek for the first time about realizing this dream,” the 30-year-old Rojas said.

Retaining Mattingly shows the Marlins are willing to establish continuity in the dugout. That’s a change considering the reputation the organization has for turning over managers, coaches and players.

Mattingly is the 15th manager the Marlins have had since their 1993 inaugural season. He’s also the longest tenured manager in franchise history.

Mattingly and Jeter were two iconic players with the Yankees. In Jeter’s playing career, he had continuity at manager, playing for Joe Torre and Joe Girardi. Mattingly noted that he had a revolving door of managers during his playing career.

“A little bit before Derek actually got to the big leagues in New York, I went through the lack of it,” Mattingly said. “Every year we changed managers. I played for Billy Martin three times. I played for Lou Piniella two different times. I played for Stump Merrill, Dallas Green, Bucky Dent.”

The Yankees had managerial stability with Torre (1996-2007) and Girardi (2008-17).

“Over 20-something years you had two managers,” Mattingly said. “Then you start to build that consistency in how you do things, and what that system is. I always felt like it was really important in watching those championships happen in New York, I thought continuity was so important.”

Mattingly initially signed a four-year deal with Miami in November 2015, after he spent five seasons managing the Dodgers.

“I understand, when you're a young player, you want to have a familiar face in the dugout,” Jeter said. “When you're a young player, and you make mistakes, the first thing you're doing is take a look in that dugout, and you see how your manager is responding. It could be someone that makes you nervous. It could be someone that calms you. Donnie is the type that is going to have that calming influence on young players.”

Because Mattingly was hired by former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, and the fact the club will finish in last place in back-to-back seasons, there was speculation the Marlins would make a managerial change after the season. Mattingly’s all-time Marlins record is 272-364.

“The great thing about Donnie is he understands what we've been building here as an organization,” Jeter said. “He keeps our guys competing on a daily basis.”

Defensively, Rojas is having a Gold Glove-caliber season at shortstop. His 13 defensive runs saved is fourth among all MLB shortstops, with the top three also in the National League.

Rojas is making $3.155 million in his second season of arbitration, and he would qualify for free agency after the 2021 season.

The Marlins acquired Rojas after the 2014 season from the Dodgers, and in the past two seasons, he’s established himself as an everyday shortstop. He’s also been a vocal leader on a 53-98 team that is loaded with inexperienced players.

“I never was a big prospect,” Rojas said. “I never was on the 40-man before I got the callup to the big leagues. I always have had to work hard for what I did, and what I accomplished in my career.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.