MLB Expiring Contracts: Managers and Bosses on the Hot Seat

Sep 14, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) in the dugout prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 14, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) in the dugout prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to MLB contracts, especially those with impending expiration dates leading to free agency, most of the attention is devoted to the players. But just as intriguing and explosive on the teams we follow are the contract expirations of managers and front office personnel. Here are a few of the most noteworthy ones to keep an eye on as the 2017 season develops.

Bryan Price, Manager, Cincinnati Reds

Bryan Price signed a one-year extension in October 2016 with a club opinion for 2018. He expressed displeasure at the time for not getting a multi-year deal. With the Reds in a rebuilding mode, the situation in Cincinnati remains in flux and Price could easily become the scapegoat if the team doesn’t begin to improve on the field. He didn’t help himself either when he unleashed a torrent of f-bombs during a press conference when he was asked a question he didn’t like. Count ’em, I think there’s 77.

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman, New York Yankees

The Yankees have always maintained a policy of not discussing expiring contracts during the season. Joe Girardi backed that up in October, saying, “Unless ownership tells me otherwise, there’s that built-in assumption that we play our contracts out and then they’ll decide.” It is expected that he’ll be watched closely, especially regarding his ability to establish rapport with the young talent on the team. Meanwhile, Cashman has joined the realm of the baseball gods with his recent flurry of activity in bringing that talent to the Yankees. As we know, though, baseball is only about “what have you done for me lately,” so Cashman can’t afford any steps backward the team might take.

Brad Ausmus, Manager, Detroit Tigers

If any manager is fired during the upcoming season, Brad Ausmus would be a strong candidate to walk the plank first. His off-the-cuff and snide remarks about his own situation after an October loss did not help at all, as quoted by MLB Trade Rumors:

"“You might want to ask whoever’s managing next year,” Ausmus responded to a question about how Bruce Rondon will be used in 2017. When asked about the challenges of being an interim manager (like Brian Snitker, whose Braves the Tigers played this weekend), Ausmus said, “I couldn’t answer that. I’ve never been one, although I’ve been kind of an interim manager for like two years.”"

The patience level is thin in Detroit as the team is only getting older and the window for a championship is closing fast. The Tigers found it impossible to trade their veterans and wildly expensive talent this offseason. However, MLB managers are not likely to be so privileged. Ausmus is on a one-year contract. He was not offered an option for 2018.

Dusty Baker, Manager, Washington Nationals

The pressure to win now in Washington has never been greater. In their mind, the front office has pulled out all the stops to put together a team that, at least on paper, should waltz into the playoffs and beyond. Dusty Baker could easily find himself in the middle of the storm if the team falters, or even looks like they’re going to falter. Known as a player’s manager, that trait could easily backfire on him if the suspected clubhouse discontent boils to the surface. A change mid-season would not surprise anyone if the Nationals are not in first place with a substantial lead over the Mets by the 4th of July.

Terry Collins, Manager, New York Mets

Terry Collins has been “fired” by the New York media at least a dozen times over the last year or two. But the next time could be for real as Collins finds himself with a team that is built to win, but could just as easily self-combust without a moment’s notice. Collins doesn’t seem to be worried about his situation with the Mets, though, telling, “I just need to re-evaluate at the end of this coming year what’s going on, where I am, how I’m feeling,” a clear indication of a man who is in control of his own destiny, regardless of what the Mets decide to do. Terry Collins is a survivor. Not so sure about the Mets, though.

More from Call to the Pen

Next: MLB's Best Moments of 2016

2017 Predictions:
Bryan Price is fired during the season.
Joe Girardi finishes out the season and then gets kicked upstairs as the Yankees search for someone younger.
Brian Cashman receives a guaranteed contract extension at the end of the season.
Brad Ausmus is put out to pasture mid-season when the Tigers reach 10 under.
Dusty Baker decides he’s getting a little too old to be dealing with a bunch of brats after Bryce Harper tears up the clubhouse and resigns.
Terry Collins announces at the end of the season that he has no interest in returning to the New York Mets – in any capacity!