A day after reports emerged that the Washington Nationals and 69-year-old manager Davey Johnson had agreed on a deal that will keep the skipper on the bench in the nation's capital in 2013, the team made the news official in a press release this afternoon, announcing that the manager who led the Nats to the NL East title this year will return to D.C. next season, "... for his final managerial campaign before shifting to a consultant position with the Nationals in 2014."
The Nats' division title was the sixth Johnson has won as a manager in 16 years on the bench in the majors.
The Nationals joined the 1986 and '88 Mets, the '94 and '95 Reds and the '97 Orioles as division winners led by Johnson and Washington's 98-win season left Johnson 138-107 as the Nationals' skipper since taking over for Jim Riggleman in June of 2011. Johnson's now (1286-995, .564 winning percentage) as a major league manager, and as the Nats' press release notes, "Johnson’s career winning percentage [now] ranks second among all living managers behind his former skipper, Earl Weaver (.583)."
The Nationals suffered a disappointing loss in Game 5 of the NLDS with St. Louis, dropping a 9-7 decision in a game they led 7-5 going into the top of the ninth inning. In this afternoon's press release Johnson thanked the Nationals' front office for the opportunity they've given him and reiterated what he told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore a few weeks back about their being unfinished business to take care of in 2013:
"I love managing this ballclub in this town, and for that, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Lerner Family and Mike Rizzo," Johnson said, "As everyone knows, we have some unfinished business to tend to in ‘13. I have a feeling this upcoming season will be filled with many memorable moments."
The speculation now is that the Nationals' 2012 bench coach Randy Knorr is viewed as a potential replacement for Johnson once the soon-to-turn-70-year-old manager moves back into a consulting role next season. The 43-year-old former major league catcher has managed at three levels in the Nats' system, leading the High-A Potomac Nationals from 2006-08 before managing the Double-A Harrisburg Senators in 2010 and the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs in 2011 before joining the Nationals as Davey Johnson's bench boss in 2012.
Davey Johnson already won the Sporting News' Manager of the Year Award and earlier this week was named a finalist for the BBWAA's Manager of the Year Award as well. The winner will be announced next week.