Mariners dismiss Zduriencik from GM post
Jack Zduriencik, who has been unable to get the Seattle Mariners into the playoffs during his seven years as their general manager, was relieved of his duties on Friday, and a search will begin immediately for his replacement.
Jeff Kingston, who has been the team's assistant general manager since 2009, will handle the GM duties for the remainder of the season.
Team president Kevin Mather said he will spend September looking at candidates, and he hopes to have a new GM in place by early October.
"I have a list that I'm sure will get longer and then shorter," Mather said. "I'll pare it down in September. I expect my candidates to be looking at the ballclub, and I'd like to have somebody in place in early October, because I don't want to miss the offseason. I'm in a hurry."
Mather said he'll interview one or two in-house candidates, including Kingston, because they'd like to gain the experience of going through the process, but he acknowledged he expects Zduriencik's replacement to have prior GM experience.
"This club is too close and in too good a spot, and this market has been too good for us [to not go that direction]," Mather said. "We're not going to take three years to learn on the job. Our nucleus is too close to making this work."
The Mariners have made some major payroll commitments in the past few years, including the signings of free agents Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to go along with ace Felix Hernandez. However, Seattle is 59-69 and 12 games back in the American League West and seven games out of second AL Wild Card spot, despite having a team that was expected to challenge for the franchise's first postseason berth since 2001.
Zduriencik was hired in 2008 to replace Bill Bavasi. Prior to joining the Mariners, he spent nine seasons with the Brewers as their director of player personnel.
Mather said he came to a final determination that change was needed this week, and he flew to Chicago to inform Zduriencik of the decision in person on Friday morning.
"It really isn't about 2015," Mather said. "As disappointed as the entire Seattle region is, it's about 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and beyond, and do we have the right leader to get us there? That means Drafts, development, sabermetrics and analytics, Minor League coaching staff. Do we have the right person to lead us there? And I came to the conclusion on Tuesday and Wednesday with [CEO] Howard [Lincoln], I said, 'I think it's time to make this change.' … I think we have a core base of talent here that should be successful for a long time."
Mather said he felt progress was being made last year, when he gave Zduriencik an extension in a season during which the Mariners went 87-75, but the disappointment of the current season "caused me to pause and examine whether we had the right architect in place."
Mather acknowledged he's not the expert on baseball operations, but it was apparent things aren't working out.
"This season has been a disappointment," he said. "Our bullpen has been a disaster for the last three months, and the first two months we couldn't score a run to save our lives. I'm not pretending to be baseball guy to say that. Everybody knows that. We need to get better at all aspects."
Kingston joined the Mariners in 2009 after spending nine years working with Padres, including the final seven seasons as their director of baseball operations.
Zduriencik was the eighth general manager in Mariners history, having been preceded by Richard Vertlieb (1977-78), Lou Gorman ('79-80), Hal Keller ('81-85), Dick Balderson ('85-88), Woody Woodward ('89-99), Pat Gillick (2000-03) and Bavasi ('03-08).