Cora reportedly out of the mix for Nationals job

One of the Nationals’ preferred candidates for their now-vacant managerial position appears to already be headed elsewhere. And even if he’s not, the Nats would have to wait until the end of the World Series to hire him.

Alex Cora has been on the Nationals’ radar, but the popular Astros bench coach already interviewed with the Red Sox and is expected to be named Boston’s new manager once Houston’s season is over, according to reports by The Athletic and NBC Sports Boston.

nats-nationals-park-overhead.jpgThe Astros’ season, of course, could have ended Saturday night, but behind dominant pitching from Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. and clutch hits from Jose Altuve and Brian McCann, they defeated the Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Which means their season is guaranteed to be extended at least one more week, possibly more, depending on how their World Series matchup with the Dodgers progresses.

Thus, Cora is going to remain occupied for a little while longer, throwing a wrench into what already was going to be a difficult search for the Nationals, who announced Friday afternoon they were not bringing Dusty Baker back in 2018.

Cora, 42, has been seen as one of the most promising up-and-coming managers in baseball for several years. The former big league infielder has served as A.J. Hinch’s right-hand man in Houston and has been the subject of much interest already this fall.

Cora finished his playing career in 2011 as a member of the Nationals. The club then interviewed him for their managerial vacancy two years ago, ultimately choosing the experience of Bud Black (who couldn’t come to contract terms with the organization) and Baker (who finally got the job on a two-year, $4 million deal) over a potential first-time skipper.

Cora already interviewed with the Red Sox and, according to reports, is set to agree to a three-year contract once the Astros’ season ends. The Nationals may yet try to swoop in and convince him to come to Washington instead, though that would require Cora not only shunning Boston but likely accepting a lesser financial deal. The Nats have never signed a manager to a contract that initially guaranteed any more than two years.

If Cora proves to be out of the mix, the Nationals will proceed with a managerial search that could include a few candidates with big league experience (John Farrell, Brad Ausmus), a few first-time candidates (Dave Martinez, Phil Nevin) and possibly a few candidates with past ties to the organization (Bo Porter, Mike Maddux).

Major League Baseball discourages clubs from making major news during the World Series, so the Nationals either would have to pull this off before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday or else wait until the Fall Classic ends.

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