By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
OAKLAND — With the Seattle Mariners almost certainly heading toward their fifth losing season in six years, the status of general manager Jack Zduriencik’s future employment has been in question in the past few months.
It was believed that Zduriencik’s two-year contract extension, which he received in 2011, was up after this season.
However, according to sources within major league baseball and close to the organization, Zduriencik will be under contract for 2014, having received a one-year extension from the organization.
The exact determination of when that extension was agreed upon is not exact, but it is not a recent development. ESPN 710 was reporting that Zduriencik had actually received the extension before the 2013 season even began.
Much of the 2013 season was spent under the assumption that Zduriencik’s future employment was undetermined.
Perhaps it’s why team president Chuck Armstrong said: “Jack has nothing to worry about,” at the winter meetings in December when asked about Zduriencik’s contract.
Armstrong, who is in Oakland with team along with minority owner Chris Larson, would not confirm the extension. He instead chose to stay with the Mariners’ policy of not commenting on contract situations, while saying that commenting on that would only lead to many more questions. Some of those questions could be about the status of manager Eric Wedge, who is recovering from a stroke and whose contract is up after this season.
When asked if there would be some sort of update or announcement regarding the general manager position in the near future, Armstrong was non-committal, saying that perhaps they might do something in the fall. But it’s likely the Mariners may have an announcement in the next week.
There has been much debate among the Mariners fan base whether or not Zduriencik should be retained for next season. Of those five losing campaigns, four have come on his watch since he was hired to replace fired general manager Bill Bavasi after the 2008 season. Zduriencik’s only winning season as GM came in 2009 when the team went 85-77. That team had a negative run differential (640 runs scored/692 runs against) and won a slew of one-run games.
Since then, his teams have gone 260-350. There was the regrettable free-agent signing of Chone Figgins in 2010 and trade of starting pitcher Doug Fister in 2011. Zduriencik also drew heavy criticism for acquiring reliever Josh Lueke as part of the trade that sent pitcher Cliff Lee to Texas. Lueke had a questionable criminal background, including allegations of rape that were later pled down to false imprisonment.
While the prospect of Zduriencik’s contract being extended into 2014 may cause some consternation from groups of Mariners fans, realistically the Mariners’ could still make a change at the position if they felt inclined. It’s only a one-year extension, which means that any financial damage would be minimal. Also if the extension was signed in the offseason as being reported, it means that this season and its failures were not taken into account.
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln fired Bill Bavasi in the middle of the 2008 season, despite another year remaining on his contract.
Extending a general manager’s contract and not making it public is not something new. Earlier this year it was learned Seahawks general manager John Schneider had signed a four-year contract extension after the 2012 season and it went unannounced at the time.