Joe Girardi told The Athletic that he wanted to be back as Yankees manager and was “surprised” when general manager Brian Cashman informed him that the team was moving in a “different direction.”
Girardi, in his first interview since leaving the Yankees last week, said he was disappointed with the team’s decision and that he wanted to continue managing the young and talented team. The Yankees, led by young stars Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino, surprised many and perhaps arrived earlier than expected by winning 91 games and taking the Astros to seven games in the American League Championship Series this season.
“I was surprised,” Girardi told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in an interview published Tuesday morning. “With the year that we had and the progress the team had made, I thought I would be back. Obviously, there is a ton of talent there, a ton of great young talent. I was excited about that. I thought I’d be back.”
Girardi, whose four-year contract was set to expire on Tuesday, also discussed the meeting when Cashman informed him of the organization’s decision not to bring him back.
“It was fairly quick,” Girardi said. “Brian told me as an organization they had decided to go in a different direction. We talked for a few minutes and we talked later on for a little bit longer. For me, there was disappointment because I kind of wanted to finish what we had started this year. And I was looking forward to the growth of the organization, the young players, the more young players with the veterans we had.
“I was very excited about 2018. But in a lot of respects, I’m really thankful. I was there for 10 years.”
Girardi, 53, told Rosenthal that he understood the decision.
“Whenever you feel someone doesn’t want you, there’s going to be hurt,” he said. “But I understood. I understand that this has happened to managers who have achieved a lot more than I have.”
Sources told Newsday last week that Girardi’s relationship with Cashman had gradually worsened in recent years, largely because the GM worried that the manager’s intensity wore on players over the long season. Girardi, however, told The Athletic that his relationship with Cashman was good and that it hadn’t changed in recent years.
“We had 10 really good years together,” Girardi said. “This is the man who believed in me and picked me over maybe some other peoples’ choices and took a chance on me after I only had managed one year. I think our relationship was good.”
Before replacing Joe Torre after the 2007 season, Girardi managed just one season with the Marlins. During his 10 seasons managing the Yankees, the franchise reached the playoffs six times, winning the World Series in 2009. Girardi went 910-710 (.562), with his regular-season wins ranking sixth in franchise history. None of his Yankees teams had a losing record. Girardi told The Athletic that he didn’t feel burned out.
“Sometimes by the end of the season because of travel, you physically get a little beat up,” he said. “Mentally, I’m not worn down. Mentally, I’m ready to go.”
When asked if he would have returned if the Yankees asked him back, Girardi said, “Absolutely.”
“I think sometimes people perceived that I didn’t want to come back, and that’s not the case,” Girardi said.
Girardi said he also spoke to Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner.
“I thanked him,” Girardi said. “I thanked his family for giving me a wonderful opportunity, not just for me, but my family, being a part of this [Yankees] family. He told me I would always be a part of this family. Obviously, we would talk later on if I ever wanted to do something for the organization. I thought that was really nice for him to say that. They want me to still be part of the family.
“I have other interests in life. I do want to manage again. Time will tell exactly what I do.”
In terms of what’s next, Girardi declined to tell The Athletic whether he pursued the managerial jobs with the Phillies or Nationals. Girardi said he would be interested in jobs or opportunities with Major League Baseball. He said he also has interest in returning to television.
Girardi said during the Yankees’ postseason run that he would sit down with his family after the season to discuss his future. Girardi said his family took the news of not returning to the Yankees hard.
“I think they were extremely disappointed,” Girardi said. “They were hurt to a certain extent. They knew that I was disappointed, but it had been a big part of their lives for 10 years, too.”