With spring training looming on the horizon, the Mariners moved Friday to shore up the upper levels of their front office by promoting Kevin Mather to replace Chuck Armstrong as president and chief operating officer.
Mather currently serves as the organization’s executive vice president of finance and business operations.
“His experience in the game of baseball has prepared him well for this position,” said Howard Lincoln, the club’s chairman and chief executive officer.
“He is highly thought-of around Major League Baseball and in this community. He will work closely with me to make sure (general manager) Jack Zduriencik has the resources he needs to build winning teams.
“Jack remains the leader of the baseball side of our operations.”
Lincoln also announced Bob Aylward, also viewed as a possible replacement for Armstrong, will gain expanded duties as the new chairman of the board for NW Sports Net LLC (Roots Sports Northwest).
Aylward will retain his duties as the Mariners’ executive vice president of business operations. He and Mather will each continue to report to Lincoln.
“Bob was instrumental in the Mariners’ acquisition of the regional sports network,” Lincoln said, “and will lead the network into the future.”
Mather, 51, came to the Mariners in July 1996 from the Minnesota Twins to serve as the club’s vice president of finance and administration. He was promoted after the 1999 season to his current role.
“Our fans, first and foremost, are our focus,” he said, “and we understand what they want most — a championship team.”
Armstrong announced his retirement last November and completes his tenure on Jan. 31. He was the club’s president and COO from 1983-89 and from 1992 until now.
“There will be a seamless transition,” Lincoln said, “as Chuck begins his retirement one week from today.”
Mather’s current job includes responsibility for financial and ticket services, retail operations, procurement, technology services, concessions and the day-to-day operations of Safeco Field.
“I am looking forward to supporting Jack Zduriencik,” he said, “as he continues to lead the baseball operations and builds the Mariners both for 2014 and for future seasons.
“At the same time, our commitment to this community and this region will remain a top priority. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I’m excited about the Mariners’ future.”
Aylward, 60, joined the Mariners in 1997 and has been in his current role since 1999. He oversees the club’s efforts in corporate sponsorships, advertising and ticket sales, marketing, broadcasting and communications.
“The club’s business operations and Root Sports are integral to the future of the franchise,” he said, “and I appreciate the opportunity to direct both groups.”
Mather worked in an Minneapolis accounting firm prior to joining the Twins in 1989 as director of finance. He was promoted in 1992 to vice president of finance before joining the Mariners in 1996.
A 1984 graduate of Wisconsin, Mather and his wife, Shannon, live in Issaquah and have three sons (J.P., David and Steven).
Aylward joined the Baltimore Orioles in 1976 and spent 17 years with that club, including the last 10 as vice president of business affairs. He then served three years in Tampa Bay as vice president of sales and marketing before joining the Mariners.
A Vanderbilt graduate, he and his wife, Elizabeth, live on Mercer Island and have two grown daughters (Laura an Caitlin).