11:25 AM: According to a report from Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Marlins planned to hire a president of baseball operations this offseason. The new president would have worked above Kim Ng as the team's top baseball executive. It was this plan of action that led Ng to turn down her side of her mutual option with the Marlins for 2024.
9:05 AM: The Marlins and general manager Kim Ng have parted ways, reports Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. It was reported about a month ago that her contract was set to expire after 2023 and it seems that a new deal will not be worked out to keep the relationship going. The club's chairman Bruce Sherman released a statement on the matter, as relayed by Jordan McPherson of the Herald. It seems the two sides had a mutual option for 2024, with the club exercising their end but Ng rejecting hers.
“We thank Kim for her contributions during her time with our organization and wish her and her family well,” the statement reads. “We will immediately begin a thorough and extensive search for new leadership as we plan to continue to invest in the Marlins organization both on and off the field. We are committed to our fans and the South Florida community and look to build off the momentum of the great progress of this year.” Barry Jackson of the Herald relays that director of player development Brian Chattin will serve as interim general manager during that search.
The departing GM provided a statement to Tyler Kepner of The Athletic: “Last week, Bruce (Sherman) and I discussed his plan to reshape the Baseball Operations department. In our discussions, it became apparent that we were not completely aligned on what that should look like and I felt it best to step away. I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Marlins family and its fans for my time in South Florida. This year was a great step forward for the organization, and I will miss working with Skip and his coaches as well as all of the dedicated staff in baseball operations and throughout the front office. They are a very talented group and I wish them great success in the future.”
Ng, now 54, was hired to be the general manager of the Marlins in November of 2020, which was trailblazing on multiple fronts. Ng was the first woman to be a general manager for a men's team in any of the four major North American sports and the first Asian-American GM in the history of Major League Baseball.
Since that time, the fortunes of the club have been gradually trending upwards. Though they made the expanded playoffs in the shortened 2020 season, the two full seasons prior to that saw them win 63 games in 2018 and then just 57 in 2019. The two seasons after Ng's hiring saw them win 67 games in 2021 and then 69 contests last year. Here in 2023, they hired Skip Schumaker to take over as manager and were able to get all the way up to 84 victories, a strong enough season that they were able to make the playoffs in a full season for the first time since 2003.
The club has had an admirable supply of starting pitching during recent years, with their rotation featuring the likes of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López, Trevor Rogers and Eury Pérez at various times. Those pitchers were all acquired prior to Ng joining the club, but she added to that group by acquiring Jesús Luzardo from the A's in 2021, sending impending free agent Starling Marte the other way. The surplus of starting pitching was then used to upgrade the lineup, with López traded to the Twins in exchange for Luis Arraez, who flirted with .400 for much of 2023 campaign. At this year's deadline, the club added some more offense by acquiring Josh Bell and Jake Burger, both of whom finished strong as part of Miami's playoff push.
Every baseball decision maker has their misses and that's certainly true of Ng. The Avisaíl García deal looks like a big misstep at the moment and the Jacob Stallings deal hasn't worked out so far. But on the whole, the results have been positive with Ng at the helm. They just had their best season in quite some time and did so with very little margin for error, financially speaking. Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, the player payroll has been one of the lowest in the league, with their Opening Day outlay coming in 28th, 26th and then 23rd in her three seasons.
The club clearly felt things were going well, since they triggered their end of the mutual option. It's possible the two sides discussed an extension, but there hasn't been much public information about that. It's perhaps worth noting that there have been some changes in the suit-and-tie levels of the Marlins organization in recent years. The club was purchased by a group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter in late 2017. Jeter served as the club's CEO until early 2022, departing at that time while stating that “the vision for the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead.” It was reported after that announcement that a change in spending plans is what caused Jeter to walk away, though others also suggested the relationship between Sherman and Jeter soured for reasons beyond just the financials.
In her statement, Ng also spoke of not being aligned with Sherman in their discussions, much like Jeter. The exact nature of their disagreement isn't known, but the result is that she won't be back with the club and will now be free to pursue other opportunities.
It's unknown if she wants to immediately jump into another job, but there are some current openings. The Red Sox fired Chaim Bloom and have been looking to hire a general manager in recent weeks. Billy Eppler walked away from the general manager position of the Mets recently, though that would be a different situation with David Stearns hired to be that club's president of baseball operations. The job with the Mets would have far more financial freedom than Ng had in Miami but it's unclear if she would want to be second-in-command after a successful run as a club's top baseball decision maker. It's possible that more gigs will open up if any other clubs decide to part ways with their front office people.
Her plans will surely become more clear in the weeks to come but it's fair to expect that she will draw interest. The Marlins, meanwhile, will look for a new head of their baseball operations department. Whoever steps into that role will seemingly have to align their vision with Sherman's and likely work with a limited budget, but there would certainly be some appeal in taking over a club that is just coming off a postseason appearance and in decent shape to compete again next year.
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