The Nationals’ open managerial position was not as settled as folks thought – er, well, it’s completely settled now, but not with the guy everyone thought.
Welcome Dusty Baker back to the managerial ranks of the National League:
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) November 3, 2015
Is Baker a step up from Matt Williams? Almost certainly. Is Baker a good in-game manager, which was Williams’ most visible flaw? Nope. Not unless he’s improved dramatically in the last couple years of being out of the dugout. Instead, Baker’s always been lauded for holding the clubhouse together well, and getting the most out of his players over the course of a full season. As I think about it, maybe that’s what the Nationals need.
Still, the very first time Baker leaves a starter in too long or bats a guy with a .280 OBP in the leadoff spot, folks are gonna chuckle.
Although the team reportedly agreed to hire former Padres manager Bud Black last week, the two sides never came to terms on an actual agreement. And, if these are true, I can see why:
From me and @barrysvrluga, via sources: Nats chose Black on Wednesday, first offer left him "deeply offended," talks crumbled by Saturday.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) November 3, 2015
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 3, 2015
That … is not a reasonable offer to a guy with Black’s chops (or almost any manager, actually). If true, it kinda seems like the Nationals were trying to take advantage of the limited market at this time of year to get a deal done on the cheap.* Heck, even the Marlins just signed Don Mattingly to a four-year deal.
So, with Black out, the Nationals turned back to Baker, and it’s a done deal. It’s a remarkable turn of events, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Baker in Washington will be its own interesting thing to follow, and then, where does Black go? Do the Dodgers now give him another look?
*(Different situation, but last year, when there was essentially a market of just one team, the Cubs still went over the top – five years and $25 million – to get Joe Maddon.)