Look for the Mariners to move briskly to hire a new general manager. Club president Kevin Mather wants a replacement for Jack Zduriencik in place by mid-October — if not sooner.
“I want to avoid the, ‘You can talk to him after the postseason,’” Mather said. “Sorry, we’re going to miss him. He’s not going to make my list. I’m not going to wait until November on this.
“I’d like to move this along sometime in late September to mid-October, so we can hit the ground running when the postseason ends.”
Mather said he’s “leaning strongly” toward an experienced general manager in putting together his list of candidates.
“I think we’re this kind of close (to being a postseason club),” he said. “I don’t want to spend two off-seasons (having someone) learning on the job and miss the Nelson Cruz/(Robinson) Cano/Felix (Hernandez) window.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re going now. I want to get this person in place quickly.”
Speculation regarding possible candidates surfaced even before the Mariners fired Zduriencik on Friday during a disappointing season that began amid high expectations.
Assistant general manager Jeff Kingston will fill the role until a permanent replacement is hired. Kingston has never been a full-time general manager.
Names already surfacing as possible replacements include:
▪ Kevin Towers, who was the general manager at San Diego from 1995-2009 and at Arizona from 2010-14, He currently works in Cincinnati as a scout and special assistant to the general manager, Walt Jocketty.
▪ Kenny Williams, who is executive vice president of the Chicago White Sox after serving as the club’s general manager from 2000-12.
▪ Dan O’Dowd, who served as Colorado’s general manager from 1999 to 2014. He is currently employed by MLB Network.
One intriguing rumor making the rounds suggests that the Mariners will try to lure Pat Gillick back to Seattle in some sort of overseer capacity, perhaps similar to the job held by Tony La Russa as chief baseball officer at Arizona.
Gillick, 78, was the Mariners’ general manager from 2000-03, the period of the franchise’s greatest success. He currently serves as the club president in Philadelphia.
Mather seemed to hint at such as possibility by characterizing the general manager’s position as “too big of a job for one person to know everything about it.”
He added: “I need a (general) manager who knows that he needs help. Who is wise enough to listen to all of the departments. At the end of the day, he makes the decision.”
Mather said he is handling the search, but indicated that chairman and chief executive officer Howard Lincoln and chairman emeritus John Ellis likely would be involved.
“I have a list (of candidates),” Mather said. “My list is about as long as anyone in this room could make up on a back of an envelope right now. I suspect by the end of today, it will be a lot longer.
“Then I’m going to start paring that list back down, and I’d like to bring three or four final candidates to our ownership group.”
Mather dismissed the suggestion that the club’s disappointing performance this season will cause ownership to tighten payroll from its current franchise-record $123.2 million.
“First of all,” he said, “we’re going to draw from 2.2 to 2.3 million. Our fan support has been outstanding. … I don’t think our ownership is concerned at all (by the need for a competitive payroll).
“And our franchise is in very good shape. That’s not on the list of concerns for me.”