The 2019 MLB season is eight days old, and already there are odds posted to see who the first fired manager will be. The favorite is Washington’s Dave Martinez, according to BetOnline.
Martinez has to try and get the Nationals into the playoffs without superstar Bryce Harper. Harper left the Nationals and signed a 13-year, $330 million free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The team was bracing for the superstar’s departure, but Martinez said it was strange not seeing him in the locker room in Spring Training.
“It’s definitely different,” Martinez explained when discussing Spring Training without Harper. “He’s an unbelievable player, and I built this really good relationship with Bryce, and I wish him all the best. I really do. Regardless of what happens, I’ll always wish him the best.”
Picking Up Pieces
The reason Martinez doesn’t have any reason for excuses is his pitching staff, and the players the organization brought in to try and replace Harper. They signed Brian Dozier, Kurt Suzuki, and Yan Gomes.
In addition to already having Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the team added Patrick Corbin.
“Coming into spring training and seeing the guys we have, I’m super excited,” Martinez said. “I wanted to be more athletic, and I think we covered that. And I really wanted to focus on our defense, and I think we covered that as well.”
There was talk about general manager Mike Rizzo firing Martinez last season after the team failed to make the playoffs. Rizzo, though, shot down that speculation on whether he would bring him back for 2019.
“I haven’t considered any other scenario,” Rizzo said. “I think Davey has done a great job managing this team. He’s managed them through a lot of trials and tribulations that a lot of first-year managers haven’t had to go through. To have the team playing with the exuberance and energy level that they’re playing at this point I think is a testament to Davey and the staff and the way that they feel about him in the clubhouse.”
Others Could Fall First
Padres manager Andy Green, Mets manager Mickey Callaway and Marlins manager Don Mattingly follow Martinez at 9/1. Of those three, Callaway seems the most vulnerable.
New York has a new general manager in Brodie Van Wagenen, and since he didn’t hire Callaway, he may be looking to replace him if the team doesn’t perform well. Another strike against Callaway is that he has Jim Riggleman as a bench coach who has managerial experience. If Van Wagenen feels the pressure from the infamously cruel New York media and fans to get rid on Callaway, he has a qualified interim manager to ride out the rest of the year.
Green saw the organization get Manny Machado in the offseason, and though expectations aren’t super high, more is definitely expected than last year. Machado can be a cancer in the locker room, and if the team doesn’t mesh with him, Green could be the collateral damage.
Mattingly seems to be the safest of those three. He is in the last year of his contract, and management might just decide to let him flounder for the year and choose not to resign him.