Dusty Baker and Bud Black have been called back for second interviews with the Nationals, and it appears at this point that Washington will pick one of these two established veteran managers to replace Matt Williams.
Baker and Black are believed to be the only two finalists for the job, so barring something strange happening, one of them will be the guy. The Nationals did interview many strong candidates, though there’s no word at this point of a third finalist.
Baker, whose second interview was first reported by the Washington Post, is going to Washington on Monday for his second interview. Black, according to sources, is his main competitor for the position and also has a callback interview early in the week. Black is believed to be under consideration for the Dodgers’ managing job, as well (it’s possible Baker could be, too, though that’s less certain).
General manager Mike Rizzo has long preferred to hire experienced managers, though he made an exception when he brought in Williams before the 2014 season.
Baker, a former manager of the Giants, Cubs and Reds, is 1,671-1,504 (.526) lifetime. He is a three-time Manager of the Year (1993, ’97 and ’00). He was fired by the Reds after the 2013 season despite winning 187 games his last two years there. The Reds’ fortunes have plummeted since.
Black is 649-713 after eight-plus seasons in San Diego. He was Manager of the Year in 2010. Black was let go after starting 32-33 in San Diego this year.
A couple weeks ago, we espoused in this space Black and Baker as the right fits for Washington.
The Nationals also interviewed at least ex-Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, Giants coach Ron Wotus and Dodgers coach Tim Wallach, and TV analyst Alex Cora and Diamondbacks minor-league manager Phil Nevin were among others linked to the job.
Williams had a good first year (he was Manager of the Year) before a rough NLDS loss to the eventual World Series champion Giants, and had an especially problematic second season as manager. Rizzo made of point of saying he’d emphasize experience this time.
Bud Black and Dusty Baker are finalists for the Nationals’ manager position. (USATSI)
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