fb-pixel Skip to main content
NICK CAFARDO | SUNDAY BASEBALL NOTES

Are big-money managers being minimized?

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Are the days of big-salaried managers slowly coming to an end?

Judging by the trend this offseason of first-time managers being hired at relatively low wages, it appears teams are trying to cut costs on that aspect of their baseball operations.

According to an industry source familiar with managerial salaries, the Nationals signed Dave Martinez to a three-year, $2.8 million contract. The Red Sox gave Alex Cora a similar deal. Ditto the Phillies with Gabe Kapler and the Mets with Mickey Callaway. The only veteran manager hired this offseason was Ron Gardenhire with the Tigers. All of the first-time managers have bonuses in their contracts for making the playoffs or winning the World Series.

Advertisement



The notion that general managers are now taking on bigger roles and managers are merely there to communicate with the players seems to be infiltrating Major League Baseball.

“I don’t think that’s the case,” said one of the younger GMs. “There’s certainly more analytics and information available to managers, but I don’t think teams are avoiding hiring experienced ex-managers because they cost more. I think each team has their own set of circumstances to deal with.

“You can’t paint all organizations who have younger managers with the same brush. I think if the makeup of a team is geared toward a Joe Maddon or Bruce Bochy or Buck Showalter, then you go with someone like that. Sometimes it’s just a matter of whether you feel your players would respond to a fresh voice.”

The Cubs’ Maddon and the Angels’ Mike Scioscia are the highest-paid managers. Maddon will make $6 million in 2018, as he did in 2017. His base salary used to be $5 million, but winning the World Series in 2016 triggered an escalator where he makes an extra $1 million for the remainder of his five-year deal.

Advertisement



Joe Maddon will make $6 million in 2018, as he did in 2017.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Scioscia, who makes $6 million, is entering the final season of his 10-year deal that is worth in the vicinity of $58 million.

Bochy has earned a nice income over the years with playoff escalators and attendance bonuses pushing his base salary over $4.5 million. Terry Francona made $2.75 million per year in his original contract with the Indians, but his new deal is estimated to be in the $4 million-$5 million range.

Deposed Yankees manager Joe Girardi made $4 million last season. Red Sox manager John Farrell earned $2.5 million in 2016 and had an option for 2017, which was estimated at $3 million, and 2018, which he has coming.

Showalter will make $4 million in 2018, the final year of his contract.

The most interesting deal belongs to Rays manager Kevin Cash, who signed a seven-year deal in 2015 that escalates, starting at $700,000 and averaging about $1 million per year over the length of the contract.

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo earned $600,000 as Boston’s interim manager in 2015, when Farrell was absent during cancer treatments. Lovullo got the usual first-year manager contract in Arizona, with a fourth-year option for $1 million. He may have bonuses coming for winning National League Manager of the Year and making the playoffs.

Former Nationals manager Dusty Baker made $2.25 million in 2017, the final year of his deal, so going with Martinez saved Washington around $1.4 million.

That’s just a smattering of the higher-priced managers. The A’s Bob Melvin is close to that group in compensation, as is the Royals’ Ned Yost, the Blue Jays’ John Gibbons, the Rangers’ Jeff Banister, and the Pirates’ Clint Hurdle.

Advertisement



Coaching salaries are also falling into a certain range.

Pitching and hitting coaches are making more, in some cases, than bench coaches. The top five bench coaches, according to our source, receive anywhere from $300,000-$500,000 per year, while pitching and hitting coaches in demand can be in the $400,000-$600,000 range. Base coaches are usually in the $200,000-$300,000 range on the higher end, while the bullpen coach is normally the lowest paid, in the $175,000-$200,000 range.

After two seasons with the Nationals, Mike Maddux was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals as pitching coach.Greg Fiume/Getty Images

There are some coaches who exceed the ranges outlined above. Mike Maddux has always been in the $700,000 range, and it appears Jim Hickey signed a deal with the Cubs that puts him in the high echelon of pitching coaches, in the Maddux range.

GMs and team executives are now making big dollars as their roles expand and as analytics factor more into the day-to-day operation. The Cubs’ Theo Epstein and the Dodgers’ Andrew Friedman are around $10 million per season. The Blue Jays’ Mark Shapiro, the Red Sox’ Dave Dombrowski, the A’s Billy Beane, and the Yankees’ Brian Cashman are in the $5 million-plus range. Cashman’s new deal with the Yankees hasn’t been announced, but the five-time World Series champion is expected to land in the Epstein/Friedman range.

“The hope is that hiring a young manager makes that person better capable of dealing with players,” said one NL GM. “But the game is fast, really fast for a young manager. It takes awhile to get up to speed. That’s why it’s better to get that guy who has had his first job, made a few mistakes, learned from them, and now knows what to expect. I think that’s the guy I prefer. But to each his own.”

Advertisement



Cora, Kapler, Callaway, and Martinez will find that out. That’s why it’s important to have a solid bench coach who can run the game or be a huge factor toward that.

No team will admit its trying to cheapen the managerial position, but that’s what seems to be happening.

SONS ALSO RISE

Gordon enjoys watching his boys

Tom Gordon was on his way to play baseball with his son Dee Gordon on a beautiful morning in Orlando. The former Red Sox closer spends a lot of time with his two sons who play professional ball — Dee, the base-stealing king for the Marlins, and Nick Gordon, a Double A shortstop in the Twins organization who has a chance, according to his dad, to be even better than Dee.

“It’s been a blessing,” said Gordon. “For them to experience what I experienced for 21 years as a major league player is something I cherish because it’s special.”

Offseason BP between father and son or a game of Wiffle ball is nothing new.

“We got to the local field and we play for hours,” Tom Gordon said. “Dee just loves baseball. I don’t think he’s gotten into the business side of the game yet. He just wants to play all the time.”

Advertisement



View this post on Instagram

⚡🤘🏾

A post shared by Dee Gordon (@devaris9) on

Gordon, who saved 46 games for the Red Sox in 1998, credits Dennis Eckersley with helping him learn to be a closer. Gordon, same as Eckersley, converted to reliever after being a successful starter. Eckersley was near the end of his career when he became the setup man for Gordon in Boston.

“He was the most generous, giving person,” Gordon recalled. “Eck taught me how to become a closer. He taught me everything I needed to know while he was trying to contribute in the role he was in. The four years in Boston were tremendous. I got hurt at the end and that was unfortunate, but I loved pitching in Boston.”

Gordon did not follow the Eckersley/David Price blowup this season, but he was surprised that anyone would go after Eckersley.

“He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher and person,” Gordon said. “I don’t know what happened and I don’t really know David Price, but a guy like Eck deserves respect. He’s had a lot of ups and downs in his life. He’s rebounded from everything.”

Gordon, who owns an interest in a car dealership in the Orlando area, resurrected his career after missing the 2000 season following Tommy John surgery, becoming a setup guy for the White Sox and then Yankees. He pitched three seasons for the Phillies and ended his career with the Diamondbacks at age 41.

He’s content these days watching his sons play.

“I see them a lot,” Gordon said. “It’s great to be able to talk the game with both of them and answer their questions about how to approach certain pitchers and then be able to see the results.”

Given the Marlins’ budget restraints, Tom Gordon feels Dee will be traded.

“It would be nice to see him go to a contending team,” he said. “Dee really wants to win.”

Even at Wiffle ball.

Apropos of nothing

Brian Cashman has been Yankees GM since 1998.Kathy Willens/AP

1. There’s a sense that Brian Cashman will choose a Yankees manager with some experience, but he’s leaving the door open for many types of candidates, from the established Eric Wedge to Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens. The job might have gone to Yankees vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring, the former Red Sox infielder, but Naehring has family considerations in his native Cincinnati and didn’t believe he had the qualifications to be a major league manager. It will be interesting to see if former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus gets a shot at the job. Ausmus falls in line with the Yankees’ commitment to analytics, and he learned from his mistakes in Detroit.

2. Only knew Bobby Doerr as a special instructor in Red Sox spring training years ago, but what a wealth of knowledge he had and what a guy. He will be missed.

3. Amazing that launch angle is now a popular concept. Isn’t that what Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, and countless others did? Some people make it sound like a new phenomenon.

4. Pitching guru Jim Benedict, who earned a reputation with the Pirates as a Mr. Fix-It, was let go by the Marlins during Derek Jeter’s purge. The Marlins paid Benedict a $500,000 salary over a five-year period. According to those who know him well, he’s now starting to get some feelers from teams to act as pitching coordinator and may surface somewhere soon.

5. The media is big on asking whether the Red Sox will sign Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts to long-term deals. The only one who would make sense to sign early is Betts. You don’t know what Bogaerts is as a player yet, and Bradley could be trade bait.

Updates on nine

1. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers — Beltre’s agent, Scott Boras, said Beltre has complete confidence that the Rangers are committed to winning even though they planned to reduce payroll. Beltre would like to get to the postseason again before he hangs it up, but it’s debatable whether the Rangers will upgrade enough to make that happen.

Nelson Cruz has hit 126 home runs in three seasons in Seattle.Ted S. Warren/AP

2. Nelson Cruz, DH, Mariners — When the Mariners traded with the A’s for Ryon Healy, it was thought that Seattle might make Cruz available, but evidently that’s not the case. Healy will play first base, according to GM Jerry Dipoto. Cruz, coming off a 39-homer season, certainly qualifies as a good DH candidate for the Red Sox.

3. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Tigers — When Kinsler’s 2018 option vested, it wasn’t music to Tigers management’s ears. Kinsler, however, seems to have a trade market. The 35-year-old veteran is due to earn $11 million in 2018 and the Angels are interested. Kinsler hit 22 home runs last season, but also batted a career-low .236. Still, there are teams that believe he still has a lot left.

4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH, Tigers — His former manager, Brad Ausmus, believes Cabrera (.249, 16 homers, 60 RBIs) had a physically challenging season. “I think Miggy still has some good days in front of him,” Ausmus said. “And I think the 2017 season will motivate him completely to be prepared physically and mentally for next season.” Cabrera, 34, will make between $30 million and $32 million per year from 2018-23, and then has two vesting options. How much of that would Detroit pay to deal Cabrera, say, to the Red Sox? Cabrera’s deal was negotiated by Dave Dombrowski.

5. Shohei Ohtani, P/DH, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters — While the union and MLB try to work out a new posting system, Ohtani’s future hangs in the balance. MLB is hopeful to have something in place by the end of the week. It behooves both sides to establish a new system as MLB certainly wants this exciting, unique player stateside. The Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, and Rangers are seen as the favorites, but don’t discount the Twins, who have a lot of bonus money to offer.

6. Mike Napoli, 1B, free agent — Napoli is looking for yet another team. He may have to sell himself as a righthanded platoon player somewhere. Napoli hit 29 homers and drove in 66 runs for the Rangers last season but hit only .193.

Logan Morrison played 124 games at first base and 17 at DH in 2017.Brian Blanco/Getty Images

7. Logan Morrison, 1B/DH, free agent — Morrison belted 38 homers last season, but do you trust him? From 2015-16, Morrison played 253 games, hit 31 homers, and drew 84 walks. In 149 games in 2017, Morrison hit 38 homers with 81 walks.

8. Carlos Santana, 1B, free agent — The Red Sox are more than a little intrigued by the switch-hitting Santana if they decide not to go big on Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez, or Eric Hosmer. Santana projects well at Fenway, and is a team leader and clutch hitter. But not quite the slugger the Sox are looking for.

9. Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, free agent — Frazier was mentioned a lot at the trade deadline as a possible Red Sox target, but the Sox elected to go with Eduardo Nunez. Could Frazier, 31, be on Boston’s radar again? Frazier could protect the Red Sox at first base and third base, where he’s a very good fielder. Frazier hit 27 homers for the White Sox and Yankees last season and had a .906 OPS in September. But his batting average has declined each year since he hit .273 in 2014. In 2015, he hit 255; in 2016, .225; and in 2017, .213.

Extra innings

From the Bill Chuck files — “The MLB leaders in striking out on three pitches in 2017 were Mark Trumbo (39), Chris Davis (36), and Tim Beckham (34); they all played for the Orioles.” . . . Also, “In the 2017 season, no batter had more one-pitch at-bats than Jose Altuve, who had 138. With that one pitch, Altuve hit .449.” I guess that’s why Alex Cora endorses swinging at the first pitch . . . Happy birthday, Bryan Holaday (30), Jeff Bailey (39), Gary DiSarcina (50), and Joe Morgan (87).


Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.