The entertaining Ozzie Guillen managerial era that started with a World Series in his second season will end shortly with a third consecutive non-playoff season and a desire to gain more security and wealth.
The White Sox announced they have released Guillen from his contract after Monday night’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jays so he can pursue other managerial opportunities despite being signed through 2012. General manager Ken Williams said the Sox have agreed on compensation with an undisclosed team — believed to be the Marlins — but that Guillen is free to negotiate with any team.
Two scouting sources said Guillen, 47, who was 678-617 in eight seasons as Sox manager, is expected to be offered a four-year deal by Florida worth nearly $16 million.
“The toughest thing for me is over with,” Guillen said after informing his players before the game that Monday would be his Sox finale.
Guillen revealed he wasn’t confident of landing a lucrative extension before meeting Monday morning with Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, sensing his wish wouldn’t be fulfilled during a previous chat with Reinsdorf.
Anticipation that Guillen would depart swelled 3½ hours before the game as his office door remained closed for an extended period, and he met with reporters later than normal for his pregame briefing.
Guillen’s imminent departure surfaced hours after Marlins manager Jack McKeon announced he was retiring.
“I’m not surprised this happened,” veteran slugger Paul Konerko said. “I’m surprised it happened today.”
This marks a return to South Florida for Guillen, who was the third-base coach on Florida’s 2003 World Series champion team, as well as the end of an eight-year managerial era that brought the Sox the 2005 Series title — their first title in 88 years — as well as plenty of controversy that kept the Sox in the national and local spotlight.
Guillen, known for his candidness, thanked everyone associated with the Sox.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “Disappointed? Yes, because of the way we played this season.”
Security became Guillen’s big concern as the Sox started off slow, and he wondered what direction the Sox would be headed in 2012 — his final year of his deal. After Monday’s win in which Dylan Axelrod earned his first major league victory, the Sox improved to 78-82. They were assured of their third non-playoff season, and they’ve won only one playoff game since their 2005 World Series.
Guillen and Williams prepared separately for a split earlier this month, but each downplayed their past troubles.
“I’ll miss a lot about Ozzie around here,” Williams said.
It was only nine months ago that Williams picked up the option on Guillen’s contract for 2012.
Guillen spoke earlier this month in support of Williams, stating he deserved to keep his position despite the acquisition of Adam Dunn that failed miserably.
Guillen also didn’t put the bulk of the Sox’s failures this season on Dunn or Alex Rios, whom each will earn nearly $80 million over the next three seasons.
Guillen reiterated he wanted to stay with the Sox but wanted security for himself and his family. He moved into a larger home in the Bucktown neighborhood this spring.
Guillen quipped that he wouldn’t bring his coaches with him because they got him in trouble, but bench coach and South Florida resident Joey Cora could join him.
The only coach who appears safe past this season with the Sox is pitching coach Don Cooper, whose association with Williams dates back to 1995 in the Sox’s minor leagues.
Williams, meanwhile, hadn’t decided who would manage the Sox’s final two games.