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Mariners President and CEO Kevin Mather Resigns After Denigrating Comments Surface

Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather has resigned, the team announced Monday. 

The resignation comes after a video surfaced in which Mather belittles the English of former pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and prospect outfielder Julio Rodríguez. He made the comments in a talk to a Rotary Club in early February.

Mariners chairman John Stanton will serve as acting president and CEO until a successor is hired.

"Like all of you, I was extremely disappointed when I learned of Kevin Mather's recent comments," Stanton said in the statement. "His comments were inappropriate and do not represent our organization's feelings about our players, staff and fans."

In the 40-minute video and transcription found here, Mather spoke about the English of Iwakuma, who joined the team as a special assignments coach in January.

"It frustrates me," he told the Rotary Club. "For instance, we just rehired Iwakuma; he was a pitcher with us for a number of years. Wonderful human being, his English was terrible. He wanted to get back into the game. He came to us. We quite frankly want him as our Asian scout, interpreter, what's going on with the Japanese league.

"He's coming to spring training. And I'm going to say, I'm tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma X, but we'd also have 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!"

He then touched on Rodríguez's fluency as well as his personality.

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"Julio Rodríguez has got a personality bigger than all of you combined," Mather said. "He is loud; his English is not tremendous."

Rodríguez, 20, addressed the comments on Twitter.

Mather's comments caused major backlash before his resignation. 

"There is no excuse for what was said, and I don't want to try to make one," Stanton said. "I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We must be, and do, better."

In the video, Mather also divulged details of offering outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic a contract to which he rejected. He also talked about the area by T-Mobile Park and some concerns he had. 

“I worry about the neighborhood," Mather said. "You know, we have employees that show up at 4:15 and leave at 10 o’clock at night and there’s not enough parking, so I can get away with charging $30, $40, $50 to park in my tiny little parking garage across the street, so I don’t let my employees park there. I have them park down on the other side of [Lumen Field, the Seahawks stadium]. And so I hire police to escort them to their cars. We got to do something about our neighborhood. I worry about once this [pandemic] is behind us, getting people to come to T-Mobile Park.”

And in one instance, he referred to third baseman Kyle Seager as "overpaid." Seager is in the final year of his seven-year $100 million contract where he'll earn a base salary of $18 million in 2021. Seager, 33, has been with the team since 2011 and was an All Star in 2014. 

Mather also said Seager would be a Mariner Hall of Famer but added this will likely be his last season with the team. 

Mather had been with the Seattle organization since 1996.