The strained relations between Eric Wedge and the Seattle Mariners’ hierarchy became fully evident Friday when Wedge informed the club he will not return in 2014.
The tension, however, goes back further.
Wedge told FOX Sports on Friday that he rejected the Mariners’ overtures about a one-year extension at the end of last season, saying it did not demonstrate enough of a commitment by the club.
The extension would have taken Wedge through 2014, one year beyond the end of his current three-year deal.
“They asked if I was interested in a one-year extension. I said no,” Wedge said. “I said no because it’s not an endorsement. When you’re trying to build something, it sends the wrong message.”
Wedge said there were no further contract discussions, and he entered the final season of his deal with no additional job security. He described himself as "hanging out there all year.”
The Mariners entered Friday in fourth place in the AL West with a 70-89 record after winning 67 and 75 games in Wedge’s first two seasons. Wedge will manage the final three games, fulfilling the rest of his contract.
While Wedge suffered a mild stroke on July 22 and did not rejoin the team until Aug. 23, he said his health had nothing to do with his decision.
The problem, Wedge said, is that he and the Mariners’ hierarchy had philosophical differences about how the team should be run.
“My health is not an issue at all,” Wedge said. “We just don’t agree on how things should be done moving forward.”
The Mariners will now begin a search for a new manager with a general manager, Jack Zduriencik, who reportedly has only one year left on his contract.
That issue, however, might not be as ominous as it appears, according to a source.
Mariners executives have “evergreen” contracts that include significant termination pay to protect them as long as they do not violate the deal, the source said.
In other words, Zduriencik has security beyond his final year. In addition, the Mariners plan to “revisit” Zduriencik’s situation after they hire their new manager and possibly sign him to a more formal extension, the source said.