SEATTLE —This time there was an announcement. Unlike the past few years, there was no reason to keep it a secret, especially when the Mariners started the day 12 games above .500 and in the race for a postseason spot.
On Tuesday, the organization announced it had given general manager Jack Zduriencik a multi-year contract extension. The Mariners came into the day 71-59 and leading the race for the second wild card in the American League, giving them impetus for the extension decision.
The formal announcement was a mild surprise because of the organization’s reluctance to make such things public over the past few seasons. There was really no intimation that an extension was imminent. Zduriencik had accepted a one-year extension for 2015 before this season as he had done the year before.
But during lunch with Mariners president Kevin Mather earlier in the day, an extension was agreed upon.
“It was a short discussion,” Mather said. “The question really was, ‘Do you like it here? Are we treating you OK? Are you enjoying your job?’ He said, ‘I love it here, my family loves it here.’ I said, ‘Well, then, let’s stay. Let’s stay.’ “
Zduriencik responded with a wide smile.
“I guess that was a yes,” Mather said.
Of course it was a yes. After a series of one-year extensions that offered little security, Zduriencik has a multi-year deal in place. The Mariners would not reveal the exact number of years, reverting to the policy of not commenting on contracts.
“I’m excited and happy to be able to be here for a couple more years,” Zduriencik said. “I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in the people we have in place. It hasn’t always been easy. I think we put a plan in place, and you do what your gut instincts tell you to do. Where we’re at right now is a good spot as an organization.”
His manager was elated for him.
“I think it’s well deserved,” Lloyd McClendon said. “Jack has done a tremendous job of putting this club together and making the necessary acquisitions to make us better. I just think he’s done a tremendous job all around, starting with spring training, and getting the pieces that we needed to be competitive. Hopefully this continues to build.”
McClendon is the third manager Zduriencik has hired in his six-year tenure. Previous manager Eric Wedge walked away from the organization last season, upset with the front office and the working environment, labeling it dysfunctional. McClendon had a little fun with that notion when talking about his relationship with Zduriencik.
“We talk every day on a lot of different subjects,” McClendon said with his face breaking into a sly grin. “We’re probably as dysfunctional as dysfunctional can get. It’s a pretty good relationship.”
But joking aside, McClendon admitted that it isn’t always gumdrops and rainbows.
“Seriously, and this is a real important point, when you talk about dealing with someone on a daily basis, the one thing you have to understand is the first thing you need to do is agree that sometimes you’re going to disagree, to make your organization better,” he said. “It’s not always about ‘I love you’ and ‘You love me.’ “
Zduriencik has just one winning season since being hired after the 2008 season. His first year — 2009 — the team went 85-77. But that early success didn’t carry over. He was tasked with rebuilding the farm system that was gutted by his predecessor, Bill Bavasi, while the organization decreased payroll each season. He preached patience. The Mariners’ ownership proved to be more patient than fans. But this season has been vindication for Zduriencik.
“Our fans have been very, very patient, and I really appreciate that,” he said. “And I thank ownership for the vote of confidence. I’m happy and my family is happy, and we’re looking forward to seeing this thing through. We have a goal in mind, and we’re on our way to doing it.”