Sports

Dusty Baker Hired as New Washington Nationals Manager

Dusty Baker
New Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker last managed for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013. Jeff Haynes/Reuters

Just under a month after firing manager Matt Williams, the Washington Nationals have hired veteran skipper Dusty Baker to the same position. Baker last managed in 2013, when he led the Cincinnati Reds to a 90-72 record and a berth in the Wild Card game, which they lost 6-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Washington Nationals job is one of the most coveted managerial posts in baseball. The team is stocked with promising young hitters, including likely NL MVP Bryce Harper, and one of the best starting rotations in baseball. The club were favored by many to win the World Series in 2015, but injuries, an ill-advised trade deadline move and some questionable managerial decisions left them out of the playoffs with a record of 83-79. Days after the season ended, manager Matt Williams was fired after only two seasons with the team.

In Dusty Baker, the Nationals get someone with 20 years of managerial experience—most of it with the San Francisco Giants, whom he led to the World Series in 2002, only to lose to the Anaheim Angels in seven games. The next year, Baker took the helm of the Chicago Cubs, leading them to the National League Championship Series, which they lost in seven games to the eventual World Series champions Florida Marlins. After four years with the Cubs, Baker took over the division rival Cincinnati Reds, where he managed until 2013.

"We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship," Nationals owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. "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 has won 1,671 games as a manager, the second-highest total all time for managers without a World Series title. The Nationals were initially expected to hire former San Diego Padres manager Bud Black, but turned their focus to Baker when Black rejected the team's initial offer of $2 million per year.

This marks the second high-profile managerial signing in the past week. On Monday, Don Mattingly was officially announced as the new manager of the Miami Marlins, after an earlier report had linked the recently-fired Dodgers manager to the job. Both Mattingly and Baker will try to dethrone the New York Mets as National League East champions in 2016.

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