The fallout from the Yankees‘ disappointing 2021 season has started, as New York will not renew the contracts of hitting coach Marcus Thames and third base coach Phil Nevin, sources have confirmed to ESPN.
The Yankees also are expected to not renew the deal of assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, sources confirm to ESPN.
The moves mark a staff shakeup under manager Aaron Boone, whose job security also has come under scrutiny after the Yankees’ third-place finish in the AL East and loss to the rival Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild-Card Game.
Sources told ESPN earlier this week that Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is inclined to keep Boone as manager, although the situation remains fluid. Boone has managed the Yankees to the postseason in each of his four seasons in The Bronx but does not have a contract for 2022.
Some sources within the Yankees organization wondered Thursday afternoon how Boone will respond to the dismissal of some on his coaching staff.
If Boone indicates he would like to return as manager, the sides would have to negotiate a new contract at a time when there are at least two other managerial jobs open with the New York Mets and San Diego Padres.
Thames was an assistant hitting coach for the Yankees under previous manager Joe Girardi but was promoted to hitting coach in 2018 after the club hired Boone.
The Yankees led the majors over a four-season span from 2017 through 2020 in runs scored, and going into the 2021 season, the organization’s expectation was that the offense would again be the backbone of performance, creating margin for error for other potential weaknesses.
Instead, the Yankees’ offense was the club’s most glaring problem: They finished 19th in the majors in runs scored (711), and had long streaks of ineptitude. The Yankees also had the sixth-worst strikeout rate, and there were complaints in the front office about the team’s in-season adjustments. Thames and Pilittere directly paid the price for those numbers.
Nevin, who also joined the Yankees after the 2017 season, is a close friend of Boone’s and is well-liked and respected within the sport. He was involved in a pivotal play in last week’s season-ending loss to the Red Sox, as the Yankees attempted to come back from an early deficit in Fenway Park.
With one out, Nevin waved home Aaron Judge, who was thrown out at home plate easily on a good relay by Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts, ending a potential rally for the Yankees. Nevin later defended his decision in an interview with the New York Post, but evaluators with other teams privately say that it was the wrong choice given that the Yankees were down by two runs.
There is history for the Yankees in one decision leading to the dismissal of a third base coach. In the 1980 playoffs, third base coach Mike Ferraro waved home Willie Randolph, who was thrown out — and owner George Steinbrenner insisted that Ferrero be fired immediately. Manager Dick Howser refused and ultimately resigned after the season.