Mariners tweak coaching staff for 2022
Kristopher Negrón joins the Mariners' big-league coaching staff for 2022
November 16, 2021
The Mariners announced some changes in their coaching staff today, retaining some from 2011 while adding a few new names to the mix.
When the 2022 campaign gets underway, the M's will still be managed by Scott Servais, who signed a contract extension earlier this year. The pitching staff will still look to pitching coach Pete Woodward, Manny Acta will remain Seattle's third-base coach, and Perry Hill will continue to instruct Mariner infielders—but will not continue as first-base coach. Bench coach Jared Sandberg was not asked to return and his position will apparently remain vacant.
The most notable change is the departure of now-former hitting coach Tim Laker. The Mariners did ask Laker to return but he declined, which can only be a good thing. During Laker's three-year tenure as Seattle's big-league batting guru, the M's placed 14th, 13th, and 15th among the 15 American League clubs in team batting average and 10th, 13th, and 14th in team on-base percentage. The M's struck out an average of 9.4 times per game in the three seasons, which might be OK for a power-hitting team, but they fell well below the league average for home runs. Their three-year composite OBP of .309 is, believe it or not, better than their 2021 mark (.303). It defies understanding why the club wanted Laker back next year, but thankfully it's a moot point.
Taking Laker's place will be a different sort of coaching arrangement, with Jarret DeHart, who was Laker's assistant the last two years, sharing the batting coach job with Tony Arnerich, who was the Mariners' Minor-League Field and Catching Coordinator last season and had previously coached collegiate baseball at Cal State Berkeley. Seattle is one of a few teams that will try co-coaches for hitters next season; the Milwaukee Brewers, for example, just the other day hired Connor Dawson away from his old job as the Mariners' Hitting Coordinator to be co-hitting coach with Ozzie Timmons.
Hill is vacating the first-base coach position in favor of Kristopher Negrón, who joins the Major League staff after managing the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers to a league championship last year and working in the Seattle organization as a deputy director of player development in 2020. Named the 2021 Manager of the Year for the Triple-A West league, Negrón will also serve as outfield and baserunning coach. It's a fast rise through the ranks for the former infielder/outfielder, who only just retired as a player following the 2019 season.
Trent Blank returns as the team's Bullpen Coach and Carson Vitale is back as the Major League Field Coordinator, a title that lacks strict definition but functions as a general logistics coordinator and an aide to other coaches as needed.
Also joining the ranks of uniformed coaches is former Director of Player Development Andy McKay. McKay's new title is "Major League Coach and Senior Director of Baseball Development," which sounds like just a fancy way of moving his old job into the dugout. What his duties will be remains unclear, but between McKay and Vitale, the Mariners apparently felt replacing Sandberg as Bench Coach was unnecessary and the club will not have anyone with that title.
In public-relations-crafted statements out of the Crash Davis school of media interactions, Servais and Dipoto praised the ’22 group. “Between the returning staff and the coaches we’ve been able to add from our player development group," said Servais, "every person on this staff has had a hand in helping our players succeed in their careers and I’m looking forward to seeing more of that success in 2022.” As for Dipoto, the Seattle General Manager said the club is “very pleased to have Manny, Trent, Jarret, Perry, Carson, and Pete return and equally excited that we were able to promote Tony, Andy, and Kris from within our Player Development group. I believe this is a well-balanced staff that is focused on helping our players achieve to their full potential.”