It was going to be nearly impossible for the Nationals to find a replacement for Dusty Baker that had as much managerial experience. With that being the case, they figured they might as well just hire someone on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The Nats announced in a press release Monday that Dave Martinez will be taking the reins from Baker in what will be the 53-year-old’s first ever manager job. Martinez was given a three-year contract with a team option for a fourth year and will be introduced in a press conference on Thursday following the conclusion of the World Series.
Of course, just because Martinez hasn’t managed anywhere doesn’t mean he’s not qualified for the job. He has been the right hand man of Joe Maddon for the past 10 seasons, serving as bench coach of the Rays for seven years and bench coach of the Cubs for the past three years.
Martinez has interviewed for multiple manager gigs in the past, including with the Nationals in the 2013-14 offseason when they hired Matt Williams. Obviously, they were convinced this time around that he was ready for the opportunity.
"I am excited to bring Dave into our family," president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo said. "As we went through this process it became clear the type of manager we were looking for -- someone who is progressive, someone who can connect with and communicate well with our players, and someone who embraces the analytical side of the game. We came away from the process feeling like there was absolutely no one better suited -- who matched up to what this organization needs right now -- than Dave."
The good news for Martinez is that he will immediately inherit a loaded roster, which usually isn’t the case for a new manager. The Nationals are coming off back-to-back National League East titles and they will get virtually all of their key pieces back for next season.
The bad news for Martinez is that the Nats obviously have a fickle past with their skippers. This is their seventh manager in 14 years in Washington, with none of them lasting longer than two and a half seasons in those first 13 years. And, while the Nationals are a good bet to win a third straight division title in 2018, both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are set to hit free agency next winter. If Martinez’s first managerial post isn’t an immediate success, his seat could get hot in a hurry.
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Phils Show Kapler Brotherly Love
The Nationals weren’t the only NL East club to officially tap a new manager Monday, as the Phillies announced that Gabe Kapler will be taking over in their dugout.
Kapler, who was chosen over Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager Dusty Wathan and former Red Sox manager John Farrell, will be introduced in a news conference later this week. He’s the 54th manager in franchise history.
"Gabe has a track record of leadership, winning, progressive thinking and working with young players, and we fully believe that he is the right person to guide this organization into the future," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in a statement.
Kapler is a bit of an unorthodox choice since his coaching experience is so limited. He managed the Red Sox' Class A affiliate back in 2007 but actually resumed his playing career after that and played three more seasons in the majors. His only other coaching experience came with the Israeli national baseball team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier in September of 2012. He did some TV work after that before being hired as the Dodgers’ director of player development in November of 2014. Kapler interviewed for the team’s manager job a year after that but they chose Dave Roberts instead.
Well-versed in sabermetrics, Kapler fits what the progressive Phillies front office was looking for in that regard. He’s also considered a natural leader, which is another reason why he’s often been viewed as an interesting managerial candidate even with his lack of experience.
Kapler, who received a three-year contract, will have his work cut out for him in taking over a young Phillies team that had the third-worst record in the majors this season. For that reason, though, the front office figures to give him and the roster the time they need. It looks like a good fit.
Quick Hits: Astros manager A.J. Hinch indicated that Lance McCullers could be used in relief in Game 6 of the World Series against the Dodgers on Tuesday. McCullers is currently lined up to start a potential Game 7 on Wednesday … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Monday that everyone on his pitching staff will be available in relief for Game 6 on Tuesday other than Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish. That includes Alex Wood, who started Game 4 on Saturday and thus would be on two days’ rest Tuesday … Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald have reported that the Marlins' "preferred path" to cut payroll is to trade Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Martin Prado and they would “ideally prefer” not to deal Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna … Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun has reported that the Orioles have reached out to Chris Tillman and Wade Miley about returning in 2018 … Robert Murray of FanRag Sports has reported that "there is increasing chatter" that pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will not return to the Dodgers next season … The Mets released Nori Aoki on Monday … Both Jarred Cosart and Christian Friedrich have elected free agency after being outright off the Padres’ 40-man roster … The Giants claimed Micah Johnson off waivers from the Reds … MLB.com's TR Sullivan has reported that the Rangers are working to hire Colby Lewis as a special assistant. Lewis, 38, didn’t pitch anywhere in 2017 …