SEATTLE — Edgar Martinez is stepping down as the hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners and moving into a new role as a hitting adviser for the entire organization, the club announced Tuesday.
Martinez said the move is largely based around his desire to spend more time with family, but with the help of the Mariners he was able to create a role that gives him the flexibility he seeks while still keeping him connected with the major league team and the organization.
“Coaching goes into long hours and the travel and with the situation with my family at this point, I thought if I could have an ideal situation where I could spend some time with the MLB team and be part of it and help and expand in other roles, but also be home more with the family, that was what I was thinking,” Martinez said.
General manager Jerry Dipoto said Martinez approached the team after the end of the regular season. Martinez considered seeking a role like this after the 2017 season but opted to stick around for one more year as the hitting coach before broaching the idea with management.
“We have spent the past three weeks working with Edgar to design a new position that will allow us to take advantage of his knowledge, passion and teaching skill at both the major and minor league levels, while allowing Edgar flexibility that is unavailable in his current role,” Dipoto said in a statement.
The decision leaves Seattle needing to fill two key positions on its coaching staff after manager Scott Servais opted not to bring back pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. Martinez just completed his third full season as Seattle’s hitting coach, and was the one holdover on the coaching staff after Servais arrived in 2016.
Martinez was hired by then-manager Lloyd McClendon midway through the 2015 season after Howard Johnson was reassigned in the organization.
The move was initially met with skepticism and was viewed as an attempt by a struggling team to garner goodwill by hiring one of the best players in franchise history. But Martinez was able to transfer some of the hitting skills and knowledge from his standout playing career to the current crop of players.
Martinez played with the Mariners for 18 years until retiring in 2004. He is entering his final year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame and last year fell just short of getting the votes needed to make him one of just two inducted players who were primarily designated hitters.
Martinez said he’s looking forward to working with both the major leaguers and younger hitters in the organization.
“I always had the question of how it would be to go back and coach. I’m very happy that I got the opportunity to do it,” Martinez said. “I enjoy it. I will miss it not being there the whole time. Being around for part of the season will help. But I’m glad I tried it and the time I spent with the guys and the coaches, it was a lot of fun.”
The Mariners declined outfielder Denard Span’s $12 million contract option for next year in favor of a $4 million buyout, making the 34-year-old a free agent.
Span was acquired by Seattle last May in a trade with Tampa Bay and became one of the Mariners most consistent hitters. Span hit .272 with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBI in 94 games with the Mariners, often batting in the middle of Seattle’s order. He played 87 of those games in the outfield, almost all in left field.
Span agreed to a $31 million, three-year contract with San Francisco before the 2016 season and earned an additional $4.75 million in performance bonuses and escalators that raised his earnings under the deal to $35.75 million.
He was traded to Tampa Bay from San Francisco last offseason and relished the chance to play where he grew up. But with Seattle needing a left-handed bat after the suspension of Robinson Cano as it tried to contend for a playoff spot, he was traded to the Mariners along with reliever Alex Colome for a pair of minor leaguers.