The Marlins have fired president of baseball operations Michael Hill, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report on Sunday morning.
Marlins parting with president of baseball operations Michael Hill, a source tells The Athletic. Hill has been with the team since 2002, was named general manager in Sept. 2013 and served as one of only two Black heads of baseball operations in the majors.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 18, 2020
While Hill’s Marlins have generally struggled since he became the team’s head of baseball operations following the 2013 season, they appeared to be headed in the right direction, overcoming a massive COVID-19 outbreak early in the 60-game season to snap a 17-year playoff drought this year. The 49-year-old president has been dealt a tough hand in more ways than one over the last half-decade, whether it was the tragic passing of José Fernández — the Marlins’ best and most iconic player in a generation — at the age of 24 in September 2016, having to deal with the transition to a new ownership group headed by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, or the pressure from that ownership group to trade all his young stars (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and J.T. Realmuto) in order to reduce payroll.
Hill made mistakes during that process — the Yelich trade has been a total bust thus far (with top prospect Lewis Brinson being particularly disappointing), and it was tough for him to get much value out of the Stanton deal as he attempted to shed the slugger’s massive contract. But he also acquired starter Sixto Sánchez — who appears to be the best starter the Marlins have had since Fernández — in the Realmuto trade, and he brought in All-Star starter Sandy Alcantara in the Ozuna deal.
Hill’s offseason 40-man roster machinations have been questionable at times — relievers Nick Wittgren and Jarlin García have gone on to have great success after being designated for assignment by Hill’s Marlins — and he’s perhaps been too hesitant to deal emerging big leaguers for highly-touted prospects, as he dealt Nick Anderson — arguably the top reliever in the big leagues this season — to the Rays for a package centered around outfield prospect Jesús Sánchez at last year’s trade deadline, while on the same day dealing right-hander Zac Gallen — who now looks like an ace in the making — to the Diamondbacks for infield prospect Jazz Chisholm.
But he’s arguably made up for those miscues by taking advantage of an overpopulated free-agent market and signing proven veterans like Jesús Aguilar and Corey Dickerson to team-friendly deals, while also acquiring players like Miguel Rojas and Garrett Cooper from large-market teams where they were unable to rise up the depth chart, then turning them into valuable contributors.
With Hill effectively serving as both the president of baseball operations and general manager in Miami since 2016, the team may make multiple high-profile hires as it restructures its front office. And with his departure, White Sox executive VP Kenny Williams is now the only Black head of baseball operations in the sport. The Angels and Phillies also now have GM openings, and the Reds will potentially look to fill their vacant president of baseball operations role, so with MLB currently having no Black general managers, the offseason will serve as a test of how capable baseball is of embracing diversity as key front-office hires are made.