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GM Kim Ng parts ways with Marlins, says she and team ‘were not completely aligned’

Ng steered Miami to an unexpected playoff berth this season, but she declined to exercise her mutual option for 2024, citing differences with the club regarding the direction of the baseball operations department.

Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng looks on prior to Game 1 of the Wild Card Series between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Baseball’s postseason fever was punctured by a bombshell out of Miami on Monday morning: Marlins general manager Kim Ng, who orchestrated an improbable run to a Wild Card spot this season, announced that she has declined to exercise her mutual option and will not return to the team in 2024.

Director of player development Brian Chattin will serve as Miami’s interim general manager, according to the Miami Herald.

Per the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner, Ng cited differences with Marlins owner Bruce Sherman regarding the future of Miami’s baseball operations department — and it certainly seems like level of financial investment, long a sore spot for the team’s fans, was at the core of those differences.

“Last week, Bruce and I discussed his plan to reshape the Baseball Operations department,” Ng told Kepner.

In our discussions, it became apaprent that we were not completely aligned on what that should look like and I felt it best to step away. I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Marlins family and its fans for my time in South Florida. This year was a great step forward for the organization, and I will miss working with [manager] Skip [Schumacher] and his coaches as well as all of the dedicated staff in baseball operations and throughout the front office. They are a very talented group and I wish them great success in the future.

It’s a shocking development, especially on the heels of what was a magical 2023 season in Miami. The team entered spring on pretty much no one’s postseason radar, at best fourth in their own division behind the Braves, Phillies and big-spending Mets. But the Marlins used an excellent pitching staff, just enough offense — led by batting champion Luis Arraez, acquired by Ng from the Twins in a deal that sent Pablo Lopez to Minnesota — and some remarkable close-game luck to an 84-78 record and the second Wild Card spot. Granted, there were some warning signs under the hood: The team went a whopping 33-14 in one-run games, with an expected record of 75-87 based on their -57 run differential, and they were summarily swept in two games by the Phillies.

In addition to the Arraez deal, Ng also signed reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara to an affordable long-term contract extension, turned a rental in Starling Marte into promising young starter Jesús Luzardo, gave the team’s offense a much-needed shot in the arm by acquiring Josh Bell and Jake Burger at this year’s trade deadline and signed slugger Jorge Soler. There have been misses, too: The Avisaíl García signing has been a disaster, and the club’s recent draft history, especially its early-round picks, have been decidedly mixed. Still, it’s remarkable that the Sherman and Co. wouldn’t make it a priority to lock up the architect of that team.

Of course, the Marlins have long had a reputation for refusing to invest in both payroll and front-office staff — a reputation that has persisted even after Sherman purchased the team from Jeffrey Loria back in 2017. If Ng felt like she wouldn’t be put in a position to succeed in 2024, it makes sense for her to cut bait now while her stock around the league is sky-high rather than risk a dismal season limiting her options.

Ng, 54, became the first woman to be the general manager of a men’s team in the history of major North American sports when the Marlins hired her in November of 2020. (She also became the first female Asian-American GM in MLB history.) Prior to joining Miami, she had served as senior VP of baseball operations for MLB, working under Joe Torre. She began her career as an intern with the White Sox after graduating from the University of Chicago, eventually joining Brian Cashman as Yankees assistant GM in 1998. Ng spent three years in the Bronx before moving to the Dodgers, where she served from 2002 to 2011. During more than a decade in MLB front offices, she interviewed for head jobs with at least five different teams, missing out every time.