The Washington Nationals were interested in a pair of accomplished, high-profile managers – Bud Black and Dusty Baker – to replace the departed Matt Williams, who was fired in October after the Nationals failed to make the playoffs in a year in which they were expected to win the World Series.
While Black was the odds-on-favorite to get the gig – and, in fact, it was widely reported that he had gotten the gig – Baker won out in the end.
“Yup, Dusty Baker is the guy,” CBSSports.com and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “He’s the manager of the Nationals. They’ve got their guy.”
Baker, 66, has 20 years of big-league managerial experience. His 1,671 career wins rank 16th on MLB’s all-time list and is third among active managers. He is also one of only two managers to ever win three NL Manager of the Year awards (Bobby Cox is the other).
Baker went 509-463 in six seasons in Cincinnati, leading the Reds to the playoffs three times in four years. He was fired in 2013, and the Reds have gone 140-184 ever since.
Black, meanwhile, was fired in June after eight+ seasons with the Padres. He was NL Manager of the Year in 2010 and oversaw a rebuild in recent years but was let go after a disappointing 32-33 start to the 2015 season.
Both Baker and Black had multiple interviews with the Nationals.
“They loved both guys and they started negotiations and mentioned some numbers to them,” Heyman said. “Eventually Bud Black didn’t like the numbers he was hearing. It seemed to be kind of a low-ball offer that they made to him, and they turned to Dusty Baker. Bud Black was informed late (Monday) that they were going in another direction. There was only one other direction and that was Dusty Baker. So they end with a good guy.”
Black was reportedly offered a one- or two-year deal with less than $2 million. Baker, meanwhile, is believed to have received a two-year deal worth at least $2 million annually.
“The way they got there, the method, (was) a little unusual for a fairly big-market team that has a fairly big payroll to be so concerned about a few dollars here and there,” Heyman said. “But they get their guy.”
Baker is the Nationals’ seventh manager since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005. The Nationals made the playoffs in two of the last four years but lost in the NLDS both times. The franchise has not advanced to the LCS since 1981.