Marlins want Dan Jennings back as GM, not manager

The Miami Marlins were 16-22 when Dan Jennings took over as manager, but he could not help them turn the corner.

J Pat Carter/AP

MIAMI — During Tuesday’s end-of-season press conference, the Miami Marlins announced Dan Jennings will not return as manager but will resume his duties as general manager. 

Per president of baseball operations Michael Hill, an "extensive" and "exhaustive" managerial search has begun.

Amidst postseason aspirations, the Marlins finished 71-91 and third in the National League East in 2015. They have the longest playoff drought in the NL, dating back to 2003.

On May 18, Miami fired manager Mike Redmond and turned to Jennings, who had not coached since high school baseball in the 1980s. The Marlins went 55-69 under Jennings, but did compile one of the best records from Aug. 31 through the end of the regular season. 

"I think he did the best he could given the fact he was put in a less-than-ideal situation," president David Samson said. "I don’t know that he had the full ability in my opinion to succeed and that made it very tough for him. I think there were a lot of factors. I think the fact that he was coming from the front office, the fact that it had never been done, the fact it came in the middle of the season, the fact he was responsible for both putting players on the field and what he did with them on the field. That’s why you don’t see a general manager/manager combination because it’s very difficult.

"… Do we regret doing what we did? I think it’s hard to say that I don’t, because it did not have the desired result on the field. It did not accomplish what we expected to accomplish, so do I regret coming to that conclusion? Yes, I do. I regret everything that doesn’t work."

Jennings wasn’t in attendance on Tuesday, decompressing from Sunday’s end to the season. He has been a part of the Marlins for 13 years, knowing Hill even longer than that during their time in Tampa Bay.

Though Jennings hasn’t given his acceptance of going back to the GM role, he is under contract through 2018. As Samson put it, he was "told" to return to his previous duties.

Miami made some changes in the front office, promoting Jeff McAvoy to vice president of player personnel, Brian Chattin to assistant general manager and David Keller to director of pro scouting.

"Dan was asked to come back to where he was as general manager of the team," Samson said. "No one else has that title but Dan Jennings. From our standpoint, a lot of interesting things happened off the field this season as we start to prepare.

"We asked him to return as general manager. He was always under contract as general manager even when he was manager. This was a difficult season for all of us. We had different expectations and it just got away from us and we asked Dan to step in as manager while always continuing to be general manager. He was always general manager the entire year. That never changed. He did a very good thing for the organization by going down there to a tough situation. It was simply what we though at that time was the right thing for the Marlins to do in order to salvage the 2015 season."

There is no timetable for when the new manager will be hired, but Hill would like it to happen in time for offseason decisions. That would be in line with GM meetings Nov. 9-12 in Boca Raton, Florida. Samson said anywhere from four to 20 candidates could be interviewed.

In regards to the search, former big-league skippers Dusty Baker, Larry Bowa, Bo Porter and Manny Acta have surfaced in reports.

Samson said he, Hill and Jennings have received inquiries from a wide range of names from former big leaguers and managers to those they thought had retired from the game. Those inside the organization would also be considered.

When asked the importance of a name with previous experience, Hill said it’s not the most significant checkmark on the list.

"We just want the right person," Hill said. "I’m not going to say that whomever our next manager is is going to fit any one type of mold. We just want the right man for the job. A leader who’s going to help this talented young core take it to the next level. I spoke at the end of last year about the progress we had made and the plus-15 in games we had made and what we were trying to do to take that next step and we stalled. …

"We want someone who will rally this group. I think they are coming together as a group. That’s the one thing I can say about the adversity they faced this year is that they are coming together. These are young guys who were growing together in the big leagues who are seeing that they can win games and that they are talented, and now we just need to find the right man to continue that growth and get us over the hump."

Once the manager has been hired, he will work alongside Hill, Samson and Jennings to put together a coaching staff. Widely respected infield coach Perry Hill is signed through next season. 

"We have told our existing coaching staff that DJ wont be back in the manager’s role and that the new manager will have a role in hiring the new staff," Hill said. "It will be a collaborative effort to work with me and David and the manager. We’ll reassemble our coaching staff, but our current coaches will have an opportunity to get facetime with whomever we hire. If he comes with coaches, then that’s something we’ll have to discuss. We have left it open to our existing coaches to seek opportunity, but knowing that when a new manager comes in."

The next manager will be the 15th different person in Marlins history and fourth since 2012. Miami anticipates following a different approach this time around in the hopes the candidate will stick.

“We’re not saying we want someone fiery, we want someone old, we want someone young," Samson said. "That’s how we’d done it in the past. We’d always gone exactly opposite. It’s what you do, right? You tend to go from someone who’s fiery and intense and then you go for someone a little laid-back when you fire that person and then you fire that person and you go for someone fiery and intense. That’s generally how many organizations do it, and it has not worked for us doing that.

"What we decided to do this time — (owner) Jeffrey (Loria’s) thought and Mike totally agreeing — is best candidate. Treating it like the draft where you draft best available and not by position."

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.