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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Little contractual security for managers these days

More than a third of MLB skippers are entering final seasons on their contracts

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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Back when he was manager of the Texas Rangers, Bobby Valentine was given a three-year contract extension. He wasn't overly excited.

"It doesn't guarantee what is important, that I'm going to manage this team for three additional years," said Valentine.

It does, however, guarantee salary, he was told.

"That's not what motivates you to manage," Valentine explained.

Money may not be a motivating factor for managers, but their salaries are now getting high enough that there appears to be a little more accountability among club executives in regard to the length of guarantees they are willing to make.

There are at least a dozen big league managers who checked into Spring Training this week without any guarantee beyond this season, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Houston did not announce the length of contract given rookie skipper Bo Porter, but it is believed to have been for three years.

It is one thing for Walt Weiss, who has never managed a professional game, to be on a one-year deal with Colorado, but Toronto only gave John Gibbons a one-year deal when he was hired during the offseason to replace John Farrell, who left for Boston. Gibbons is the "new" manager, but is well-known in Toronto. He managed the Blue Jays from August 2004 through June 20, 2008, and was a coach for them prior to that.

Jim Leyland, manager of defending American League champion Detroit, and Charlie Manuel, who has guided Philadelphia to five division titles and a World Series championship in the past six years, also are in the final year of their contracts.

Others with one year on their deal include the Royals' Ned Yost, the Twins' Ron Gardenhire, the Yankees' Joe Girardi, the Mariners' Eric Wedge, the Pirates' Clint Hurdle, the Braves' Fredi Gonzalez, the Mets' Terry Collins and the Dodgers' Don Mattingly. Atlanta an option for 2014 on Gonzalez.

In addition to those managers who are heading into the final years of their contracts, nine others have contracts that run through 2014: Robin Ventura of the White Sox, the Rangers' Ron Washington, the Cubs' Dale Sveum, the Reds' Dusty Baker, the Brewers' Ron Roenicke, the Cardinals' Mike Matheny, the Nats' Davey Johnson, the D-backs' Kirk Gibson and the Giants' Bruce Bochy.

Only nine managers have more than two years remaining on their deals.

Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay, Mike Redmond of Miami, Buddy Black of San Diego, and possibly Porter are signed through 2015; Terry Francona of Cleveland, Bob Melvin of Oakland and Farrell through 2016; and Buck Showalter of Baltimore and Mike Scioscia of the Angels through 2018.

Rotating: The Rockies' in-season experiment with a four-man rotation in the second half of last season became a point of discussion. But the Rockies are back with a five-man plan this year so the subject can be put to rest.

But was the four-man rotation in Colorado that big of a deal? Only 20 times last year did a Rockies pitcher start three days after a previous start. That's the same number of starts Colorado pitchers made on short rest in 1999.

The 20 starts on three days of rest were easily the most in the Major Leagues in the past decade. The 2003 Reds made 11 and the 2005 Nationals made nine. Only 12 teams in the past 10 years have had as many as five starts on short rest.

In the past 30 years, however, the 20 starts by the Rockies only tied for 45th among Major League teams. In 1985, Cincinnati pitchers made 87 short starts, going 35-29 with a 3.53 ERA in those games. Second on the list is Atlanta, also in 1985, when it had 75 such starts.

Rockies starters have made at least one start on short rest in 14 of the franchise's 20 seasons, but the most in one season other than the 20 in 1999 and again in 2012 was four in 2000, 2004 and 1998.

Wright way: Right-hander Jamey Wright, a first-round Draft choice of Colorado in 1993, isn't afraid of a challenge. He is in Spring Training with Tampa Bay as a non-roster invitee. No big deal.

It's the eighth spring in a row that Wright has been an invite. He has made the Opening Day roster in each of the seven previous years, with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2012), Seattle (2011), Cleveland (2010), Kansas City (2009), Texas (2007 and 2008) and San Francisco (2006). There is no known record, but Wright is believed to be the first player to make an Opening Day roster as an invited player in seven consecutive years.

Wright has pitched in only 16 Minor League games during the past seven seasons, and 10 of those were in 2010, after he was released in mid-season by Cleveland and signed with Oakland, which also released him. He signed with Seattle and remained there the rest of the season.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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