Don Mattingly won’t be back managing the Marlins in 2023 and returning to New York should be on the table.
No, not as a manager. Buck Showalter’s revival of the Mets makes him a practical shoe-in for National League Manager of the Year. Aaron Boone has weathered another slump storm in the Bronx and will also be back next year no matter how much #YankeesTwitter complains.
So where does that leave Mattingly? Well, certainly not managing and that’s probably a good thing. He turns 62 in April and that’s certainly not too old, but he’s been managing for 12 years across Los Angeles and Miami. The man deserves a break, and in one job specifically.
No, Mattingly needs to be the next Yankees bench coach.
It’s certainly not a bad idea even with longtime Boone lieutenant Carlos Mendoza locked into the job. Mendoza also interviewed for the Red Sox and Tigers’ respective managing vacancies after the 2020 season. Miami will be just one of several jobs open this winter and he’ll surely interview again.
Who else takes over as bench coach? New York could promote third base coach and former Mets boss Luis Rojas, but he’s been a star in that role. The next best in-house option is probably pitching coach Matt Blake, but he shouldn’t switch jobs at all.
Thus, why not one Mattingly, who won an MVP trophy and made six All-Star teams in 14 years in the Bronx? The fans still adore him and he served as both a hitting and bench coach under Joe Torre.
This is where things get interesting, particularly if the Yankees’ bench coach job opens up in the winter. Longtime general manager Brian Cashman’s contract is up at the end of the season. Will he get a new one? Probably, he’s been on the job since 1998. But what if the Yankees fall short in the playoffs again and Hal Steinbrenner decides to bring in some not-so-new blood?
It’s a pie in the sky idea but if Cashman is out and Derek Jeter comes in, Mattingly coming back to New York becomes more likely. Jeter famously kept Donnie Baseball on as Marlins manager when he and Bruce Sherman bought the Marlins in 2017.
Mattingly was also NL Manager of the Year in the shortened 2020 season. If Cashman leaves and Jeter’s cryptic words of a return mean his running the front office, Mattingly’s return doesn’t sound so crazy after all.
Not to mention, Boone’s new fiery nature would be balanced perfectly with Mattingly’s Midwestern calm. Plus, suppose the Yankees stumble again next year and team brass decides to move on from Boone in-season? Mattingly can easily step in on an interim basis for the rest of the year, maybe beyond.
Again, Mendoza is still the bench coach and probably will be next year. Even more likely is Cashman getting a new contract and Jeter not joining the front office.
But regardless of what happens this offseason, one thing will always be true. Mattingly will always be a Yankee no matter what uniform he wears in retirement. If he has the chance to wear the uniform with No. 23 one more time, perhaps he should get it.
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