SEATTLE – Lloyd McClendon was hired as manager of the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, taking over a rebuilding job that Eric Wedge walked away from.
McClendon becomes the third manager hired by general manager Jack Zduriencik. Wedge quit at the end of the Mariners’ fourth straight losing season, citing differences with the front office on how to move forward with improving the team. Wedge’s three-year contract expired after the season.
The 54-year-old McClendon is the 16th full-time manager in club history. He takes over a club that went 71-91 last year. He will be formally introduced by the team on Thursday.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to manage the Seattle Mariners,” McClendon said in a statement. “Seattle has a tremendous group of talented players and the fans and city should be excited about the club’s future. I’m looking for this group to take a big step forward.”
Seattle is the fourth club to fill its managerial vacancy. The Washington Nationals hired Matt Williams to replace Davey Johnson. The Cincinnati Reds, who fired Dusty Baker after a 90-win season, went with pitching coach Bryan Price as their new manager and Detroit chose Brad Ausmus to take over for Jim Leyland — a job McClendon interviewed for.
The Chicago Cubs are still looking for a manager.
McClendon was the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2001-05, going 336-446 during the club’s 20-year stretch of losing seasons. Pittsburgh never won more than 75 games or finished higher than fourth in the NL Central during his tenure and he was fired in early September of the 2005 season.
After Pittsburgh, McClendon settled into a stable role Leyland’s staff in Detroit. For eight seasons, McClendon was a coach for the Tigers, including the last seven as hitting coach. He interviewed for managerial positions in Seattle and Miami during that stretch, but never got an offer.
“Lloyd is a bright and articulate guy,” Zduriencik said in the statement. “He has major league managerial experience and has served in a vital capacity in Detroit under one of the game’s best managers. He is a tireless worker and is very respected by the players with whom he has worked. We look forward to Lloyd embracing our players as we move the Mariners forward.”
McClendon was one of five reported finalists for the Mariners job, a list that included Joey Cora, Oakland bench coach Chip Hale, Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach and San Diego bench coach Rick Renteria. McClendon was the only one of the group with previous major league managerial experience.
The Japanese players association has rejected Nippon Professional Baseball’s proposal for the new posting system.
“We’ve tried to explain the course of negotiations to the players association for the past year and a half,” Nobuhisa Ito of NPB’s legal department said Wednesday. “We will continue to try to gain their understanding.”
The tabled idea — already agreed to by NPB and Major League Baseball — would still award negotiating rights for any player to the highest bidding team from the majors.
Under the new system, though, the bid fee is said to be set as the average figure of the top two bids, and any team which fails to sign the Japanese player during the exclusive negotiating window will be fined by MLB.
But the players association has balked at the revisions to the system, which netted the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters more than $51 million from the Texas Rangers for the rights to Yu Darvish two winters ago.
In a letter to NPB, the players said the new system “brings absolutely no merit to the players or the NPB teams.”
An expensive bidding war is expected this offseason over the rights to Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka, who went a perfect 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA during the regular season for the Japan Series champions.