Joe Girardi spent a decade as the New York Yankees’ skipper. It almost never came to be, as the Los Angeles Dodgers nearly landed him first.
Joe Girardi donned New York Yankee pinstripes for a decade as a manager. His uniform could’ve turned Dodger blue.
Former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti joined reported Jon Heyman and Rob Bradford on the Big Time Baseball podcast to discuss his time in Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers began negotiations with Girardi to replace second-year skipper Grady Little.
“We had contract discussions on term and rate,” Colletti recalled. “Just as we were coming down to kind of finishing it off, at least in my mind, he had come out here to visit, he was doing network analyst work during the postseason, so he was in L.A. He had a chance to meet ownership.”
Girardi had previously managed the Florida Marlins in 2006. He was fired after a single season after clashing with owner Jeffrey Loria. Despite his ousting, Girardi was named the National League’s Manager of the Year after guiding Florida to a 78-84 record, a respectable mark considering the Marlins’ low payroll. He would go on to spend the 2007 season calling Yankee games for YES Network, as well as national games on Fox. The Baltimore Orioles offered him their job after firing Sam Perlozzo in June, but he turned them down.
Colletti said that Girardi was ready to take the Dodgers’ position, but a new development changed everything. After the Yankees fell in the 2007 ALDS to Cleveland, the team bid farewell to longtime leader Joe Torre. It ended a 12-year run for Torre, who won four World Series titles with the team.
Once the Yankees had a vacancy, Girardi’s attention shifted back east.
“The minute Joe Torre left the Yankees, I called (Girardi). I knew Joe very well, and I said, ‘Hey, they’re gonna come after you for that Yankee job,” Colletti said. “He says, ‘You think?’ I said ‘Yeah, I can pretty much guarantee that (Yankees general manager Brian Cashman) is going to call you.’ And I said, ‘So you’ve got to tell me where your heart’s at.’”
It turned out Girardi’s heart was in New York. He previously spent four seasons with Torre as a Yankees catcher. Ironically, the Dodgers wound up hiring Torre after Girardi’s rejection. He would spend three years with the team before joining MLB’s front office.
Girardi also appeared on the podcast. He spoke about his own ousting in 2017. His final win tally in New York reached 910 and the team won the 2009 World Series.
“I was shocked and I was disappointed and I let that be known two years ago,” Girardi said. “I was excited about the direction the Yankees were moving in. For the three to four years previous to that, we were an aging group that struggled with injuries and the performance of some of the veteran guys that we had was not what they had done in the past. A lot of that had to do with age, so I was excited about the prospects of the team that was coming back in 2018.”
The Yankees would go on to hire another pinstriped alum turned broadcaster, Aaron Boone, to succeed Girardi. He’s guided the young squad to the American League’s best record (57-31) as MLB celebrated their All-Star break this week. Rumors have swirled about Girardi returning to the dugout, possibly with the New York Mets. He has since returned to the Fox booth in the meantime.
“I don’t really have a particular team that I’m looking at,” Girardi said. “I’m not looking at a particular situation. I’ve been through a lot of different situations. I’ve been with rebuilds in Miami and somewhat of a rebuild in New York. I’ve been with young players and I’ve enjoyed that immensely. I’ve been with older players and I’ve enjoyed that immensely.”
The Yankees return to the field on Friday night in The Bronx, as they welcome in the Toronto Blue Jays (7:05 p.m. ET, YES).