Dusty Baker’s entire coaching staff will return in 2017.
The Nationals announced today that all seven coaches on Baker’s staff - bench coach Chris Speier, pitching coach Mike Maddux, first base coach Davey Lopes, third base coach Bob Henley, hitting coach Rick Schu, assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones and bullpen coach Dan Firova - have been retained for another season.
The news doesn’t come as much surprise, given how well-liked the staff was by this year’s roster, but most of the coaches (as is typical throughout the majors) were working on one-year contracts. Maddux was an exception, signed to a two-year deal last winter when he left the Rangers to come to Washington.
Maddux, Speier, Lopes, Jones and Firova were newcomers to the Nationals. Henley and Schu were holdovers from Matt Williams’ 2015 staff.
Maddux holds a particularly significant role, essentially given full control of the pitching staff by Baker, who lets the 55-year-old set the rotation schedule and make most key decisions.
Speier and Lopes are longtime confidants to Baker, who had Speier on his staffs in both Chicago and Cincinnati and played with Lopes in Los Angeles.
Schu has been the Nationals’ hitting coach since July 2013, serving under Davey Johnson, Williams and Baker. Jones, a former big league outfielder who retired after the 2008 season, was added to the staff this year as the club’s first-ever assistant hitting coach.
Henley has been the Nationals’ third base coach the last three seasons and has been a coach, minor league manager or instructor with the organization since 2003. The 41-year-old has been a particularly aggressive third base coach and came under scrutiny when he sent Jayson Werth home at a key moment in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, with Werth easily thrown out, but he remains popular with players and fellow staffers alike.
Firova, who just turned 60 earlier this week, was hired by Baker to serve as bullpen coach, his first opportunity to be on a big league staff after decades managing in the Mexican League.
Baker, who guided the Nationals to a 95-67 record and the National League East title, is entering the second year of the two-year deal he signed in November.