Nats begin contacting candidates, hoping for quick search

The Nationals have begun the search for a new manager, and they would prefer that search be a quick one.

After informing Dusty Baker on Friday morning he wouldn't be retained despite division titles in each of his two seasons in Washington, the Nationals began to compile a list of potential candidates to replace the popular former skipper. They're now beginning the process of zeroing in on a handful of top candidates from that list and beginning to reach out to some for a first round of interviews.

The hope, according to sources familiar with the search, is to move quickly on these interviews and select a new manager in short order. An announcement, though, likely will have to wait until after the World Series is completed, with Major League Baseball asking clubs not to make significant news during its premier event.

Rizzo-Points-Presser-Sidebar.jpgAmong those the Nationals intend to interview are Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez and Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, sources confirmed. Each is well-regarded by their current organizations as well as plenty outside observers, with Martinez in particular having been touted for some time as a future big league manager.

The Washington Post was first to report the planned interviews for Martinez and Long.

Martinez, 53, has served as Joe Maddon's right-hand man for the last decade, serving first as bench coach for the Rays and then joining Maddon in Chicago the last three seasons. The former outfielder spent parts of 16 seasons in the majors with nine organizations, including the Expos from 1988-91.

Long, 50, has been an influential hitting coach for the Yankees and Mets over the last 11 seasons, credited by several prominent players (including Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy) for having helped them revamp their swings and hit the ball in the air with more regularity.

A candidate for the Mets' managerial job in the last three weeks, Long wound up losing out to Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, who today was formally introduced at Citi Field. Another connection to the Nats: Long's son Jaron is a right-hander in the organization and this season pitched for Triple-A Syracuse.

The Nationals expressed interest over the weekend in Alex Cora, sources said, but the Astros bench coach had already all but agreed to manage the Red Sox. Boston officially announced Cora's hiring Sunday, though he'll continue to coach the Astros through the World Series before starting his new job.

Martinez, Long and Cora all have no previous managerial experience. If the Nationals are interested in someone with more of a track record, their likeliest choices would be John Farrell (who won the 2013 World Series with the Red Sox but was fired at the end of their short playoff run), Brad Ausmus (who led the Tigers to a division title in 2014 but was fired after a last-place finish this season) or Bo Porter (who was highly regarded as the Nationals' third base coach in 2011-12 and then left to manage the Astros for two seasons).

Mike Maddux, who served as Baker's pitching coach the last two seasons, could be interviewed as an internal candidate, though the popular 56-year-old is free to talk to other clubs. The Cardinals, Cubs and Mets are among the teams also in the market for a pitching coach right now.

Randy Knorr, who served as Nationals bench coach for both Davey Johnson and Matt Williams and spent the last two seasons as senior adviser to general manager Mike Rizzo, could find himself in the mix again four years after he was a finalist for the manager's job. For now, Knorr has agreed to be Syracuse's manager next season, according to a source who confirmed's initial report.

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