March 8, 2021

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Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather resigns following controversial comments

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Kevin Mather, whose startling comments about service-time suppression, foreign-born players’ English skills and the inner workings of the Seattle Mariners roiled the baseball industry, resigned as the team’s president and CEO on Monday, according to club chairman John Stanton.

Mather, 58, made the comments during a Feb. 5 virtual meeting with the Bellevue (Washington) Breakfast Rotary Club, and they were unearthed from YouTube by a Mariners fan Sunday. 

By day’s end, top Mariners prospect Julio Rodriguez tweeted his dissatisfaction with a comment criticizing his bilingual acumen, and the flap also resurfaced complaints of harassment Mather faced as club executive vice president in 2009 and 2010. 

Come Monday, his seven-year reign as club president was over.

“His comments were inappropriate and do not represent our organizations’ feelings about our players, staff and fans,” Stanton said in a statement. “There is no excuse for what was said, and I won’t try to make one. I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We can, and must, do better.” 

Stanton, who took control of the Mariners in 2016, said he will serve as acting president and CEO until a successor is chosen.

His resignation ends a brief but turbulent news cycle after his unusually candid remarks surfaced. Most notably, he admitted the club did and will suppress the service time of young players – a long-utilized but never officially acknowledged maneuver among major league teams – such as outfielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Logan Gilbert.

“There was no chance you were going to see them at T-Mobile Park,” he said of a gaggle of elite prospects who were in the club’s player pool during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

The Major League Baseball Players’ Assn. issued a statement terming Mather’s comments “a highly disturbing yet critically important window into how Players are genuinely viewed by Management. Not just because of what was said, but also because it represents an unfiltered look into Club thinking…

“Players remain committed to confronting these issues at the bargaining table and elsewhere.” 

Indeed, Mather’s comments provided an unexpected backdrop to what were already expected to be contentious negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement; the current deal expires Dec. 1, and players are expected to seek significant changes to the way they are paid, with an eye toward countering the service-time suppression methods Mather outlined.

“I’m glad it’s out there in the public now,” said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, “and people can see how it is.”

Mather, who also held a minority ownership stake in the franchise worked for the Mariners in various roles since 1996, joining the club from the Minnesota Twins. The Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001, the longest playoff drought in major North American sports.


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