Mariners CEO resigns amid fallout from video criticizing players, ex-pitcher's 'terrible' English
Seattle Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather resigned Monday following the emergence of video where he expressed opinions about organizational strategy and his views on some players.
Mariners chairman John Stanton said Mather’s comments were inappropriate and do not represent the views of the franchise. Mather’s resignation is effective immediately.
Stanton will take on the roles of CEO and team president on an interim basis.
“There is no excuse for what was said, and I won’t try to make one,” Stanton said in a statement. “I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We must be, and do, better.”
Mather issued an apology late Sunday for his comments, which were made Feb. 5 to the Bellevue, Washington, Breakfast Rotary Club and were posted online over the weekend.
The video posted by the Rotary group was 46 minutes long and touched on areas of the Mariners’ organizational situation going into the 2021 season — many of which Seattle’s front office would rather not be made public.
“We have a lot of work to do to make amends, and that work is already underway,” Stanton said.
Mather addressed the team’s payroll and watching the financial bottom line. He said he believed top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert likely will not start the season with the team as a way to manipulate their major league service time and keep them under club control longer.
Mather said the club attempted to sign Kelenic to a long-term contract and was rebuffed in its efforts.
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“Jarred Kelenic, we’ve been talking about him for a year and a half now, he will be in left field in April,” Mather said. “He’s a 21-year-old player who is quite confident. We offered him a long-term deal — a six-year deal for substantial money with options to go farther. After pondering it for several days and talking to the union, he has turned us down. And in his words, he’s going to bet on himself. He thinks after six years he’s going to be such a star player that the seventh- , eighth- , ninth-year options will be undervalued. He might be right. We offered, and he turned us down.”
Mather also commented on another top prospect, Julio Rodriguez.
“Julio Rodriguez has got a personality bigger than all of you combined,” Mather said. “He is loud. His English is not tremendous. Everybody says he’ll be here in 2021. He won’t be here till 2022 or 2023. A fantastic kid.”
Mather said longtime third baseman Kyle Seager would be a future Mariners Hall of Famer but also was “overpaid.” Seager is in the final year of his contract with the Mariners and will be Seattle’s highest-paid player at $18 million. His contract includes a club option for 2022.
And Mather made disparaging comments about former pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who recently rejoined the team as a special assignment coach.
“Wonderful human being — his English was terrible. He wanted to get back into the game, he came to us, we quite frankly want him as our Asian scout/interpreter, what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training,” Mather said. “And I’m going to say, I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma ‘X,’ but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.”
Mather had been with the Mariners since 1996. He was promoted to CEO and team president in 2017.
Mather was also accused of harassment by two former female employees. The allegations were revealed in a 2018 report by The Seattle Times. The team said it had “made amends” with those employees who lodged the harassment claims against Mather.