Washington Nationals: Should Matthew LeCroy Replace Davey Martinez?
By Tom Sileo
Harrisburg Senators manager Matthew LeCroy might be an ideal replacement if the Washington Nationals fire embattled manager Davey Martinez.
The case for the Washington Nationals firing sub-.500 skipper Davey Martinez has been made. While the prospect of firing another manager isn’t fun for Mike Rizzo, the good news is that the Nats general manager might not have to look far for a replacement to at least finish out 2019.
The best answer might very well be Matthew LeCroy, a former Nationals player and the current manager of the team’s Double-A affiliate.
You’ve probably heard about this year’s historic start for the Harrisburg Senators, where LeCroy is in his sixth season as manager. The Senators are an astounding 21-5 so far in 2019 after posting a 72-65 record last year.
While minor league records can be deceiving, LeCroy’s standing in the Nationals organization is beyond reproach. After playing 80 games as a catcher and first baseman for the Nats in 2006, LeCroy was hired to manage the Class A Hagerstown Suns in 2009 after retiring as a player.
Following two years in Hagerstown, LeCroy moved to the Class A-Advanced Potomac Nationals for the 2011 season. He then took over the Senators in 2012 before returning to the Major Leagues in 2014 as the bullpen coach for Nationals manager Matt Williams.
When Williams and his entire coaching staff were fired after a disappointing 2015 season, the Nationals thought highly enough of LeCroy to invite him to stay in the organization and resume his managerial duties in Harrisburg. He’s led the team to winning record in two of the three seasons since, with a third in four years appearing more than likely.
LeCroy is just 43 years old, yet already has the distinction of managing more minor league seasons than he spent as a big league player. More importantly, almost every homegrown National has previously played for LeCroy at some level. Ryan Zimmerman even played on the same Washington Nationals team as LeCroy in 2006.
“Preparing guys for the big leagues is a lot harder than I assumed it was going to be,” Matt LeCroy told FanGraphs last year. “When I first started out, I had goals, too. I figured that if I won, I may have a chance to go coach or manage in the big leagues.”
“But that’s not why I’m here,” LeCroy continued. “My main job is to make sure I maximize everybody’s abilities to the highest level possible so that they can go to the next level.”
While LeCroy would need to prove he can win as a big league manager, his long, distinguished track record of successfully developing young players could do wonders for a roster featuring three of baseball’s youngest position players: Victor Robles, Carter Kieboom and Juan Soto. LeCroy has already managed all of them.
“Soto is a pretty amazing kid,” said LeCroy, as quoted by FanGraphs. “Every day that he came to the park he was on a mission.”
While LeCroy looks ready to manage in the majors, an interim tag would make sense if he takes over for Martinez this year. The Nationals would then be free to pursue Joe Girardi or another available manager in the off-season if LeCroy isn’t the right fit.
Either way, LeCroy has spent the last decade earning the opportunity to lead the Washington Nationals. He deserves a shot.