Mariners CEO Kevin Mather resigns after video comments
He had previously been accused of harassment by two former female employees
Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather resigned Monday after a video surfaced over the weekend expressing his views on the club’s organizational strategy and opinions about some players.
Mariners chairman John Stanton said Mather’s comments were inappropriate and did not represent the views of the franchise.
Mather’s resignation is effective immediately. Stanton will serve as CEO and team president on an interim basis.
“There is no excuse for what has been said and I will not try to find one,” Stanton said in a statement. “I sincerely apologize on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We have to be better and do better.”
Mather apologized late Sunday for his comments, which were directed to the Bellevue, Washington, Breakfast Rotary Club on Feb. 5 and posted online over the weekend.
The video posted by the Rotary group was 46 minutes long and touched on areas of the Mariners’ organizational situation ahead of the 2021 season – many of which the Seattle front office would prefer not to release.
“We have a lot of work to do to make amends, and that work is already underway,” Stanton said.
Mather’s departure seemed inevitable as the firestorm mounted over his statements, which included comments about manipulating service time for some top prospects – Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert – and insensitive comments about international players’ English understanding.
Mather said Kelenic and Gilbert would not start the season with the Mariners so the club could have prolonged scrutiny before the promising young stars got a free hand. He said another top contender, Julio Rodriguez, didn’t have “enormous” English and he complained about the costs involved in providing an interpreter for Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma.
“Wonderful man – his English was terrible. He wanted to get back in the game, he came to us, we honestly want him as our Asian scout/interpreter what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training,” Mather said. “And I’ll say I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we paid Iwakuma ‘X’, but we also had to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.”
The Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement Monday expressing concern about the video.
“The club’s video presentation is an extremely disturbing but extremely important window into how the players are really viewed by management. Not only because of what was said, but because it represents an unfiltered look at the thinking of the club,” the statement said. “It’s offensive, and it’s not surprising that fans and others in the game are offended as well. Players remain committed to addressing these issues at the negotiating table and elsewhere.”
The video was another infraction during Mather’s tenure at the club, which began in 1996. Mather was promoted to CEO and team president in 2017, but a year later tried to explain the harassment allegations made by two former female employees — the former executive assistants — to Mather and then-executive vice president Bob Aylward
The allegations were uncovered in a 2018 Seattle Times report. The team said it “made amends” with those employees. The claims date from the late 2000s.
At the time, the club issued statements saying an outside expert conducted an investigation and “we imposed appropriate discipline, management and sensitivity training, and other corrective actions.”
The newspaper also reported that there was another settlement with a third woman who said she felt pressured to kiss then-team president Chuck Armstrong.
Mather said it was a humbling experience for him to face “some uncomfortable realities” about himself. He took responsibility for his actions and apologized for behavior he described as intimidating, mean and inappropriate in the workplace.