Bud Black might not be the Washington Nationals manager next year after all.
According to multiple reports Monday night, the Nationals have run into contract issues with Black and may instead hire the other leading candidate — former Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the switch — widely described using language like “stunning reversal” — citing “people familiar with the situation.”
He wrote that “the team was apparently leaning toward Baker today,” whom the Nationals “liked … very much from the start.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale later reported, citing “a person directly involved in the talks,” that “negotiations with Bud Black stalled” after he was offered the job Wednesday. The team had planned to introduce him formally as the new manager on Monday, the day after the World Series ended and the customary courtesy period was over.
The Nationals “have now engaged in contract talks with Dusty Baker,” USA Today reported.
According to the Washington Post, the contract issues were the Nationals’ longstanding reluctance to pay managers top dollar and long-term job guarantees, though Baker almost certainly would demand a multi-year, multimillion-dollar contract too.
USA Today wrote, citing “a person with knowledge of the talks,” that the deal the team offered was just a two-year contract that would pay less than $2 million — terms that Black flatly refused and “considers is a low-ball offer.”
Black, who managed the San Diego Padres for more than eight years until being fired midway through this year, was widely reported at the weekend to be the Nationals’ choice to replace Matt Williams, who was fired immediately after the team’s disappointing 83-79 season.
Baker also managed the San Francisco Giants at the height of the Barry Bonds era and led the Chicago Cubs to, prior to this season, their last playoff appearance. He was three times named manager of the year.
In his 20 years as a major-league manager, Baker has a .526 winning percentage and led his teams to five division titles, one wild-card playoff slot and one National League pennant.
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