The options was something which has already been suspected, but the first official confirmation came today, as a result of the surprising announcement that Jim Leyland would not be returning as manager of the Detroit Tigers. He resigned from the position after eight years, saying during today's press conference, "I'm going to be 69 years old. I'm not ashamed of that. I'm proud of it. The fuel's getting a little low." That immediately set off the inevitable round of speculation as to his replacement, Gibson's name inevitably coming up because of his ties to Detroit. He grew up there, played on the last World Series winning team and was a Tigers' bench-coach.
That appears to be non-news, with Gibson apparently not interested in the position. Team President Derrick Hall told Nick Piecoro of the Republic: "My first inclination was to say I would not grant permission because we want him to stay here. But I asked him, ‘If that’s what you desire, to go interview, that’s different.’ But he said he wants to stay here. That’s all we needed to hear. He’s not going anywhere." Not going anywhere is one thing, but exactly how long he might be staying in Arizona is quite another. For lower down in the story, there was news: Hall confirming the team hadn't exercised their 2015 + 2016 options on Gibson (and neither, one imagines, on GM Kevin Towers):
"He’s committed; he’s a loyal guy. He’s under contract. He likes it here. Of course, I think he would have liked his options exercised, but he also knows he could be here the next 20 years. That doesn’t mean that he’s not going to be here after next year because we didn’t exercise those next two years. He has enough confidence in himself to know that he could still get extended or still get renewed."
Reading between the lines of the decision, I think it can be taken as an indication that ownership was not happy with a second successive .500 season. And why should they be, considering the 2013 payroll was $15 million higher than the previous season - and that, in turn, cost $20 million more than the last D-backs team to make the post-season. If I was paying out 70% more in payroll than two years ago, and wasn't seeing the results in the standings, I'd be asking questions as well. This would appear to serve as notice to Gibson and Towers that 2014 had better be better.
So, the question is: do you think Kirk Gibson will still be the manager of the Diamondbacks, not on Opening Day 2014, but for 2015?