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Manager search no small task for Rizzo, Nats

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are one of two teams in baseball searching for a manager following the announcement on Friday that Dusty Baker will not return in 2018.

The Tigers and Red Sox have hired Ron Gardenhire and Alex Cora, respectively, and the Mets are expected to name Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway their next manager. That leaves the Nationals and Phillies as the remaining teams without a skipper.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are one of two teams in baseball searching for a manager following the announcement on Friday that Dusty Baker will not return in 2018.

The Tigers and Red Sox have hired Ron Gardenhire and Alex Cora, respectively, and the Mets are expected to name Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway their next manager. That leaves the Nationals and Phillies as the remaining teams without a skipper.

So the Nationals are about to begin a challenging search. The job figures to be one of the most attractive in baseball, but at the same time it comes with a considerable amount of pressure to win.

The roster has been constructed to contend for a World Series and should be in position to make the postseason for a third consecutive year. But 2018 will be a crucial season. Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy can be free agents at the end of the season, along with Gio Gonzalez and general manager Mike Rizzo, meaning it might represent the last chance for the current core to win a World Series. Baker won back-to-back National League East championships and led the best two-year stretch in franchise history, but was dismissed after losses in Game 5 of successive Division Series.

It's likely the Nationals will want to find someone with experience to take on this sort of role -- especially considering they're not that far removed from hiring rookie manager Matt Williams in 2014 before dismissing him in '15. And once they find the right person, they will have the challenge of reaching contract terms that are amenable to both parties.

This will be the team's seventh manager since coming to Washington in 2005, and its sixth manager in the past decade. Rizzo said he does not believe that history will hinder his search.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals