Bud Black has emerged as the top candidate to land the Nationals’ managerial job and could be offered a deal as early as today, according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden.
Bowden, Washington’s former general manager, reports Black is in D.C. for his second meeting with the Nationals. The Washington Post is also reporting that Dusty Baker will interview again with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo today.
After firing first-time manager Matt Williams after a disappointing second season, Rizzo cited the importance of the Nationals’ next skipper possessing previous major league managerial experience.
Black managed the Padres to only two winning seasons while a compiling a 649-713 record during his nine years in San Diego. The franchise underwent an ownership change and three front office shake-ups leading to inconsistency and, more importantly, less-than-competitive payrolls during Black’s tenure.
But 2015 was supposed to be different. New Padres general manager A.J. Preller spent the offseason wheeling and dealing, assembling a roster many predicted would end up playing in the postseason. So with San Diego battling to a disappointing 32-33 start, Preller fired Black on June 15. The move was considered a shock to most of the players.
Black became Padres skipper in 2006 when Bruce Bochy bolted San Diego to take over the Giants. Black was named National League Manager of the Year in 2010, but despite winning 90 games, the Padres blew a late-season division lead and lost to the Giants on the final day, missing the playoffs.
Despite his record, Black has always been regarded as one of the better managers in baseball with the ability to get the most out of his players. As a former pitcher who spent 15 years in the majors, Black understands how to develop his staff of arms and properly handle a bullpen.
The left-hander won 121 games for five different teams during his career, which included a World Series championship with the Royals in 1985. He joined Mike Scioscia’s staff as pitching coach from 2000-2006, winning another World Series with the Angels in 2002.
Even with the expected departures of free agent right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, the Nationals rotation is still loaded, with righties Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg leading the way. Black is familiar with right-hander Joe Ross from his days in San Diego. Black could potentially be key to Ross’ continued development as well as that of other young talented arms in the Nationals system, such as right-hander Lucas Giolito.
Black reportedly first interviewed for the Nationals managerial vacancy on Oct. 15. The Nationals have met with six other candidates, including Baker.
Baker, 66, led the Giants, Cubs and Reds to the postseason during his 20 years managing in the majors. His best run came with the Giants in 2002, losing the World Series in seven games to the Angels. Baker won NL Manager of the Year three times. He last managed in 2013, but was fired by the Reds after losing to the Pirates in the NL Wild Card game.
The Nationals will likely formally announce their next manager following the conclusion of the World Series.