Asked directly this week, when he spoke to reporters on Monday night about the altercation between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon, what the future held for second-year skipper Matt Williams, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters it was one of several questions that would be answered after the season is over.
"I think Matt has persevered through a lot of different injuries," Rizzo said, "a lot of different ebbs and flows of the season.
"He's had to juggle maybe as many different lineups as any manager has in baseball and many injuries at different times and groups of players coming off the disabled list at the same time."
But will he be back?
"We're going to make 2016 decisions after we finish 2015. He's under contract to be the manager next year."
According to a report by CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman today, however, the decision has already been made.
"Embattled Nationals manager Matt Williams' firing was a surety even before he missed, then mishandled a dugout choking incident that became national news," Heyman writes, adding that the first-time manager was "miscast... with a team toting huge expectations."
Heyman says Williams, "will indeed be given his pink slip following the year."
Citing "someone familiar with the situation", he adds that Rizzo, "isn't going anywhere."
The altercation between Harper and Papelbon, which Heyman, and many others believe was mishandled by Williams and the Nationals, "... didn't change things in regard to Williams' status; he wasn't going to overcome this sort of underperformance and make it back. It simply shined a light on clubhouse issues that have kept a talented team down."
Heyman goes on to say that Williams' comments about Harper's punishment for his role in the dugout dust-up with Papelbon may have cost him the one voice of support he had in the clubhouse after Harper talked to reporters recently about the help and support he's received from the major league slugger-turned skipper.
Heyman suggests that in making the decision to give Harper a day off (with Papelbon dropping his appeal of a three-game suspension for throwing at Manny Machado's head and receiving a four-game suspension from the team), "perhaps Williams felt a need to punish Harper due to clubhouse pressure, as some suggest there's a segment that sees Harper, the presumptive NL MVP, as a young kid (read as: cocky), but he didn't say (and Nats people deny that was a factor)."
"In any case," Heyman writes, Harper noticed, and, "... the lack of support for the manager may be unanimous now.
Williams actually, in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies this week, said pretty clearly that the decision to give Harper the day out of the lineup was not his or at least his alone:
"The fact of the matter is that that's an organizational decision. I don't know. There's no good that comes out of anything like that, right?
"A skirmish is something we don't want. That type of behavior from [Papelbon] is unacceptable.
"All of those things we talked about. What could he have done differently? Don't know. But he was involved and the organization decided to do that. But it's over, it's done."
Either way, Heyman says that Williams' days in D.C. are numbered, and he even speculates about who might be next, mentioning Cal Ripken, Jr. who talked to the Nationals before they hired Williams and "Rizzo's other Arizona connections... Bryan Price and Jay Bell," though he notes that, "... they are currently the manager and coach for a team doing even worse (the Reds)."
Read the entire, lengthy article below. Heyman's just joining a long list of writers who seem fairly certain that this weekend's series with the NL East division winning New York Mets will be Williams' last.
Inside Baseball: nats will let matt williams go, what happened in DC, & other MLB moves coming. http://t.co/BYplaDBHTW— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 2, 2015