The Nationals' search for a manager is officially under way, and not surprisingly, Joe Girardi's name has found its way into the discussion.
Girardi is an interesting name to watch this offseason. His contract with the Yankees expires at the end of the month, and he's one of the more proven and respected managers that could be available for teams in need of a new skipper.
He won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 and has a .566 winning percentage (564-408) in seven years as a big league manager.
But because Girardi isn't out of his contract with the Yankees just yet, it might be tough for interested teams to be able to sit down with the 48-year-old manager. The Yankees have reportedly declined to grant the Cubs' request to interview Girardi, an Illinois native who attended Northwestern and was a Cubs draft pick back in 1986. Girardi played seven of his 15 major league season in a Cubs uniform.
The Cubs are believed to have major interest in Girardi, but the Yankees, who hope to retain their manager's services, reportedly won't allow the Cubs to interview Girardi while he's still under contract. The Nationals' request to interview Girardi could be dealt with in a similar fashion.
It's thought that Girardi will likely go one of three ways this offseason - return to the Yankees, go back to his Chicago roots and join the Cubs, or possibly take a year off to spend time with his family. The Nationals are among other teams that might try and convince Girardi otherwise.
Girardi, a former All-Star catcher, was linked to the Nationals' managerial job years ago before he joined the Yankees. The Nationals ended up hiring Manny Acta as manager after being rebuffed by Girardi following the 2006 season and the dismissal of Frank Robinson. Girardi won the 2006 National League Manager of the Year award for leading the Marlins, baseball's lowest-paid team at the time, to a fourth-place finish, but was fired shortly after the season ended following a dispute with owner Jeffrey Loria.
Randy Knorr, who has spent the last two seasons as the Nats' bench coach, will get heavy consideration as an internal candidate for the Nationals' managerial job, and Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams is largely viewed as one of the top external candidates. Williams has a solid baseball background as a player and coach, and also has a relationship with general manager Mike Rizzo, who knows Williams well from their time together in Arizona.
Another name to keep an eye on is Dusty Baker, who parted ways with the Reds today. Baker has 20 years of experience as a big league manager.