Posted on October 29, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Washington Nationals appear to have found their new manager, and it’s Dave Martinez. Jon Heyman is reporting that the Nationals have settled on Martinez, who has spent the past three seasons as bench coach for the Chicago Cubs, the team that eliminated the Nationals from the playoffs this year. The Nationals are yet to confirm the hiring. A formal announcement is expected following the conclusion of the World Series.
Martinez will replace Dusty Baker, who was not retained at the end of the season. Baker only managed the Nationals for two years. In both seasons, he led the Nationals to an NL East title, only to see Washington eliminated in the NLDS in both seasons. That lack of playoff success appeared to be the reason why the Nationals wanted to move on from Baker.
While Nationals ownership was eager to part ways with Baker, many of Washington’s players did not feel the same way. Heyman has reported that several players were upset to see Baker let go. The team did not feel that Baker was the reason they didn’t advance in the postseason. After they were eliminated from the playoffs, most of the Nationals players were under the assumption that Baker would be back in 2018.
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Nationals players are also upset that the team continues to have such frequent turnover with the manager’s job. Such frequent managerial changes bring a sense of instability to the team, making it hard to attract both managerial candidates and free agents. Martinez will become the 6th manager the franchise has had since moving to Washington in 2005.
Needless to say, Martinez has his work cut out for him. He must convince his new team that he’s the right person to lead them to the World Series. Martinez doesn’t have any prior managerial experience but he does have a strong pedigree. Martinez was on Joe Maddon’s coaching staff for seven years with the Tampa Bay Rays. He then followed Maddon when he became manager of the Cubs, serving as Chicago’s bench coach for the past three seasons.
Martinez received the endorsement of several players to take over as Tampa Bay’s manager when Maddon left, but he was not given the job. Since he became Tampa Bay’s bench coach, Martinez has interviewed for at least a handful of managerial jobs. He even interviewed with the Nationals following the 2013 season, but lost out on the position to Matt Williams, who only lasted two seasons in Washington.
Prior to his coaching career, Martinez played 16 major league seasons with nine different teams. He hit .276 with 1,599 career hits.
The 53-year old Martinez now embarks on his first managerial job and a great challenge in Washington. The Nationals have aspirations to win a World Series and they appear to be running out of time to do so. Key players Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are both free agents following the 2018 season. Washington’s window to be perennial favorites in the NL East and World Series contenders could potentially close after next season. That puts a great deal of pressure on Martinez to have instant success in his first job as a major league manager.