The Washington Nationals have officially hired their next manager, not Bud Black, but Dusty Baker, the team reported. Baker, a three-time National League Manager of the Year, will take over for Matt Williams, who was fired by the Nationals on October 5.
Originally, Black, 58, was set to be the manager, but in a last-minute twist, the Nationals went with Baker, a former outfielder and experienced manager. Black has spent the last eight and a half seasons as the manager of the San Diego Padres.
According to James Wagner of the Washington Post, Black was expected to be the next manager of the Nationals on a one-year, $1.6 million deal. Black agreed, but later refused the deal. After the tension started, Washington extended the deal to two years with a few team options to try and reel him back into their organization. Black was still not happy with the offer, which caused Washington to renege on the managerial opportunity that was originally handed to the former left-handed pitcher.
Baker, 66, played professionally for the Atlanta Braves (1968-1975), Los Angeles Dodgers (1976-1983), San Francisco Giants (1984) and Oakland Athletics (1985-1986). During his 19-year career, Baker hit .278 with 242 home runs and 1,013 RBI over 2,039.
The best season for Baker was in 1981 with the Dodgers. Baker was a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner during his All-Star season, which he hit .320/.363/.445 with nine home runs and 49 RBI over 103 games. That was the same year that the season was split because of a players' strike, which is why the numbers for Baker are not as impressive. In 1980, a full season, Baker played 153 games and launched 29 home runs and brought in 97 runs. He was the National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player in 1977.
During his managerial career, Baker led the Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and now he will get a shot to bring his name back into the baseball with the Nationals.
The 66-year-old has managed 3,176 games during his career. On the all-time games managed list, Baker is No. 16, behind 10 dead managers and five retired managers. The only other is Bruce Bochy, who may be retiring sooner than later.
"We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship," said managing principal owner Ted Lerner. "During our broad search process we met with many qualified candidates, and ultimately it was clear that Dusty’s deep experience was the best fit for our ballclub."
Baker is ranked second, behind Bochy, for wins as an active manager. He has 1,671, which is 31 behind the San Francisco Giants manager. The veteran has lost 1,504 games, but owns a solid 52.6 winning percentage.
The three time National League Manger of the Year award winner (1993, 1997, 2000) will take over a Nationals team that struggled to finish out what looked like a division championship season. Baker, however, is in a good position with the Nationals, who have a ton of talent, so much that they have the ability to claim the National League East in 2016.