Washington Nationals: Dusty Baker Looking To Avoid Contract Distraction
By Ricky Keeler
On Sunday, Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker talked about he would like to get a contract extension done sooner rather than later.
At Washington Nationals spring training on Sunday afternoon, manager Dusty Baker made some comments regarding his contract status. Baker is in the final year of his deal and has said he wants to continue managing. Here is what he had to say yesterday, courtesy of Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:
Even though spring training is only a week in, there haven’t been any distractions surrounding the team. It isn’t like last year where one of the main topics of conversation was any carry over from the Jonathan Papelbon–Bryce Harper fight in 2015.
In Baker’s first season as the Washington Nationals manager, the team won 95 games and won the NL East after missing the playoffs in 2015. He clearly had an impact on this team and his fun personality makes him a player’s manager.
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As for any possible distraction, it shouldn’t be a major one and it shouldn’t affect how the team plays. While it’s possible that the team could look at Baker’s contract and view him as a “lame duck” manager, it’s clear the team respects him and is buying in on the messages he’s sending.
With that being said, the organization needs to get ahead of this situation and find a way to get a new contract done with Baker before the team heads up north from West Palm. If Matt Williams was able to get an extension done the season before he was fired, then so should Baker.
Baker, who will be 68 in June, has developed a track record for winning wherever he goes. Counting last year’s 95 win season, his teams have won 90 or more games nine times out of the 21 seasons he has managed.
One of the challenges for Baker is going to be how to put the bullpen together heading into this season since they currently don’t have a set closer. If he can somehow get the most out of the bullpen, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be given a short-term extension.
Since the Washington Nationals moved from Montreal to D.C, nobody has managed the team more than three years. Frank Robinson managed from 2002-2006, but three of those seasons were with the Expos. With Baker in his second season the more realistic option would be to add a one year option for next year.
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If the Washington Nationals want to avoid being asked about Baker’s contract all season long and have it linger if the team starts off poorly, they will find a way to end any chance of a distraction and get a contract done.