Baker named Nationals manager
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals agreed to terms on Tuesday on a multiyear deal with Dusty Baker to become the team's sixth full-time manager. He will be introduced Thursday at an 11 p.m. news conference, which can be seen live on MLB.com and nationals.com.
"We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship," said Nationals 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."
After Matt Williams was dismissed on Oct. 5, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that he wanted to hire a manager with Major League experience. Baker, 66, has 20 years experience with the Giants, Cubs and Reds, with a career record of 1,671-1,504, five division titles and a National League pennant with San Francisco in 2002.
Baker is 17th on the all-time managerial wins list, and he will be second only to Giants skipper Bruce Bochy (1,702) among active managers.
"I am so pleased to welcome Dusty Baker to the Nationals family," Rizzo said. "In getting to know Dusty and identifying what we wanted in the next on-field leader of our team, we are excited to have him on board. Dusty's experience, as a winning player, coach and manager, is vast and varied. We are excited to bring him to Washington and put his steady demeanor, knowledge and many years in the game to work in our favor. I think I speak for the entire organization when I say I am very much looking forward to working with him."
Baker is a three-time NL Manager of the Year Award winner in 1993, '97 and 2000 -- all with the Giants. He last managed in '13 with the Reds, guiding them to the NL Wild Card Game against the Pirates, where they lost, 6-2.
Last week, sources said that Bud Black was the club's choice to replace Williams. But multiple reports on Monday night indicated that negotiations between Washington and Black had broken off. The club has not commented on those reports.
A baseball source told MLB.com last week that Black, 58, would be named the Nationals' new manager, and it appears the job was offered to him. However, a deal was never finalized with the former Padres manager. Black, who was let go this past season in June, went 649-713 in nine seasons at the helm in San Diego, winning the NL Manager of the Year Award in 2010.
Capturing a World Series title as a manager is important to Baker, who wants to win a ring that has eluded him over the years. The closest he came was in 2002, when he was the manager of the Giants, who lost in seven games to the Angels.
Baker would not have to deal with a rebuilding phase. He has a solid pitching staff led by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, along with the 2015 NL MVP Award front-runner in Bryce Harper. Rizzo let it be known last month that the Nationals are looking to win a title in '16.
Baker is regarded as one of the better players in the Major Leagues during the 1970s and early '80s. He had his best years with the Dodgers from 1976-83, batting .281 with 144 homers and 586 RBIs and winning a Gold Glove Award in '81 and two Silver Slugger Awards in 1980-81.