The Washington Nationals will announce Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez as their new skipper after the World Series, per reports.
The Washington Nationals have selected their next manager. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez will be announced as the team’s new skipper following the conclusion of the World Series. Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post confirms that a three-year contract has been reached, with an option for the 2021 season.
The move comes after the Nats dismissed veteran manager Dusty Baker after two years at the helm, a decision that surprised many. Washington was wildly successful during the regular season under Baker’s watch, winning the NL East division title both years with 95 and 97 wins, respectively. However, playoff disappointment doomed him in the end, as the Nats lost in Game 5 of the NLDS each of the last two postseasons.
Martinez is no stranger to major league dugouts, having spent 16 seasons as a player and 10 years as Joe Maddon‘s bench coach with the Rays and Cubs. He has even been a candidate for a Nationals managerial vacancy before, interviewing for the role in 2013. The club ultimately hired Matt Williams at the time.
Given the 53-year-old Martinez’s close association with one of the game’s more respected skippers in Maddon, it’s somewhat surprising he hasn’t received a managerial gig until now. He’ll get his big chance, however, with a high-profile club expected to compete again for a championship next year.
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The Nats considered a variety of candidates before deciding on Martinez. Former Red Sox leader John Farrell also interviewed for the position. The team reportedly showed interest in Mets hitting coach Kevin Long and Astros bench coach Alex Cora as well, before the latter was hired by Boston.
Some even thought they would make a play for Joe Girardi after the Yankees rather stunningly cut him loose. It seemed a logical fit, but Heyman claims Washington was unwilling to pay the salary Girardi would likely command.
Martinez won’t have much of a honeymoon period with the Nationals. This remains a talented squad and the clear frontrunner in the NL East. But the real challenge is clearing that first-round playoff hurdle that has repeatedly bewitched the franchise. With superstar right fielder Bryce Harper only a year away from potential free agency, the window to make a deep run could be narrow indeed.
For now, Martinez will focus on making the most of an opportunity that’s been a long time coming. Fans in Washington will hope he’s the man to finally get them to the promised land.