Managerial openings for a handful of Major League teams have been the talk of the town for the past few weeks, particularly with the curious hiring decisions made by the Boston Red Sox (John Farrell), Colorado Rockies (Walt Weiss), and Miami Marlins (Mike Redmond). Much has even been made of the apparent lack of priority that the Toronto Blue Jays have placed on their own opening. Through all of the discussion, however, few have talked about the opening that the Washington Nationals have technically held since the season came to a conclusion a few weeks ago.
Washington did not have a contract in place for their manager beyond this past season, as Davey Johnson’s original deal was only scheduled to compensate him for an advisory role within the organization for the 2013 season. Yet, despite that, it was widely expected that the presumptive NL Manager of the Year would return to the bench for at least one more season after leading the team to their first division title this past season before a disappointing exit in the NLDS. Late Friday that likelihood became official, as the team formally announced that they had reached an agreement with Johnson on a deal for one more season. Financial details have not been made public but it is believed that the new contract will pay Johnson more than any manager in the organization’s short history by a considerable margin. Johnson plans to retire from managing at the end of the 2013 campaign, at which point in time he’ll return to his advisory role.
Johnson, who’ll turn 70 this January, led the Nationals to a MLB-leading 98 wins this past season, securing the organization’s first winning season and first playoff appearance. He managed through countless injuries to the team’s core players early on and overcame having one of their top right-handed pitchers being shut down before season’s end in doing so. Despite the successes, however, the team still has some unfinished business to attend to this coming season, according to Johnson:
We made a lot of progress from 2011 to 2012 and I was real pleased with the guys. I think we can grow further. And I think a lot of inexperience caught up to us a little bit. There’s still room for this club to grow. We’ve still got some young guys that have higher ceilings. We made better steps. A lot of guys came through for being awfully young. And now we have more experience and what adjustments to make to be more successful.
With their managerial situation now resolved, Washington has just one hole to fill on their coaching staff – as former third base coach Bo Porter has since been named the manager for the Houston Astros. Some have speculated that first base coach Trent Jewett could slide over to the position, allowing the team to seek a new coach to replace him on the right side of the diamond. Jewett, Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley, and Double-A Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy are all considered possibilities to take over for Johnson after the 2013 season. Bench coach Randy Knorr, a former MLB catcher, is widely considered the favorite, however, at least from an internal standpoint.