National Embarrassment: Nats Leave Bud Black Hanging


The Washington Nationals announced Monday morning that three-time National League Manager of the Year Dusty Baker would be the sixth skipper in franchise history in a sudden turn of events that saw contract negotiations fall through with the original front-runner for the job, Bud Black.

After reportedly selecting Black as the man for the job on Wednesday, the former Padres manager was “deeply offended” upon hearing Washington’s initial offer: 1-year, $1.6 million. By Saturday, talks fell apart and the Nats switched their efforts to Baker.

Tuesday morning, they made it official.

Baker is an accomplished manager, having won five division titles and clinched two Wild Card births with three different teams. He made one World Series, losing in seven games to the Angels, and owns 1,671 career wins, 17th all-time. He is known for his ability to lead a clubhouse, build strong relationships with his players, and above all, win. While the comments he made after initially losing out on the job to Black raise some warning flags, no one outside of Washington should be disappointed with his hiring.

What is disappointing, however, is the organization’s treatment of Black. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo worked closely in accordance with owner Ted Lerner to ensure the Nationals would be playing under a well-respected, experienced manager in 2016. The final two candidates, Baker and Black, both appeared to be perfect fits for the Nats, and it seemed they could not go wrong with choosing either one.

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They went with Black, but then things began to go south. Their initial offer of 1-year, $1.6 million is laughable from an outside view. From Black’s perspective, it is downright insulting. As a former manager with a good reputation around the league, no team should be offering him any less than three years.

When negotiating with a player outside the organization, Rizzo and Lerner need to learn that there is a line of mutual respect that must be met. Simply put, the Nats completely disregarded that line. As a result, they don’t get the guy they wanted. While Baker is not necessarily a bad choice, Lerner still isn’t getting his No. 1 guy.

This team has seen its fair share of embarrassments over the years. Who can forget the day they decided to be the “Natinals,” or how their General Manager resigned over an ongoing FBI investigation, or how their best player was choked out by a teammate in the dugout over jogging out a pop fly. Not to mention that the Nats endured six consecutive losing seasons, regulars in the NL East basement.

The Nationals’ organization needs to get its head on straight, because they have a very busy offseason ahead of them. The bullpen needs a makeover, the bench needs depth, and a fourth outfielder should be on their radar. The Nats need to establish themselves as yearly contenders and a respectable organization, and two missed opportunities in three years and an offended prospective manager isn’t going to get them there.