The Los Angeles Dodgers and Don Mattingly announced their agreement to a three-year contract extension on Wednesday.
Mattingly’s original contract was set to expire at the conclusion of last season but was automatically extended one more year when the Dodgers reached the National League Championship Series.
The first year of the new contract takes the place of the extended year from the previous contract and tacks on an additional two years.
Should Mattingly fulfill the entire three-year extension, he will be the longest tenured Dodgers manager since Tommy Lasorda.
The new deal came nearly three months later, but Mattingly finally received the job security he tersely addressed in late October of 2012. Or has he?
Theoretically, it is on paper only that Mattingly is slated to be the Dodgers’ manager past the 2014 season. He is still the same manager who was hired by Frank McCourt.
Compared to last season, Mattingly is going to be under significantly more pressure in 2014, extension be damned. Another sputtering start for the Dodgers may not be looked upon as compassionately as it was last season.
Ownership has shown the pension to spend money, and spend it lavishly. What’s to say Mattingly won’t be fired if results are not up to par?
At the very least, what has come to the forefront is the perception that the Dodgers and Mattingly are united. Despite his in-game shortcomings during the 2013 postseason, Mattingly is well-liked by the players and earned at least one more season as manager.
If providing Mattingly with a new contract was necessary to relieve him of stress, then so be it. The focus can now shift to re-signing Clayton Kershaw, potentially signing Masahiro Tanaka, and filling in the various holes on the roster.
Make no mistake about it, if Mattingly and the Dodgers don’t meet expectations, the embattled manager may run out of luck.