This past Friday, Washington Post writers James Wagner and Chelsea Janes reported that two candidates for the Washington Nationals' managerial opening would be coming back for second interviews this week, and while, "more candidates could be brought in... [Dusty] Baker and [Bud] Black offer strong resumes."
"Major League Baseball prohibits teams from making major announcements during the Series," the WaPost's beat writers added, "[s]o the Nationals could nearing their decision around then and be ready to announce their choice after."
MLB.com's Bill Ladson confirmed the fact that Baker would be coming back for a second meeting in the nation's capital after what was reportedly a 3 ½ hour interview with the entire front office, ownership included:
Dusty Baker will be interviewed by the #Nationals early next week. It will be his second interview with the club. #Nats #MLB— William Ladson (@washingnats) October 23, 2015
On Sunday night, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman too wrote that it could in fact be down to a choice between just Black and Baker.
"Washington will pick one of these two established veteran managers to replace Matt Williams," Heyman reported.
He added that, "barring something strange happening, one of them will be the guy," and in spite of the fact that the Nats, "did interview many strong candidates... there's no word at this point of a third finalist."
Thom Loverro, of ESPN980 and The Washington Times, wrote on Twitter on Sunday night that Chicago Cubs' bench coach Dave Martinez could still get a look:
Hearing that while Dusty Baker & Bud Black are finalists for #Nationals job, Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez will get a shot as well— thom loverro (@thomloverro) October 26, 2015
Martinez did reportedly interview with the Nationals when they were searching for Davey Johnson's replacement.
He has been mentioned with the Nats this time around as well and the Chicago Cubs were only recently eliminated, so the idea that he could still talk about the job opening in Washington makes sense.
Former Nationals' General Manager and current ESPN analyst and MLB Network Radio host Jim Bowden said on Sunday that from what he was hearing it was down to Black and Baker and an offer, if not a decision, could be coming soon:
Bud Black is in Washington DC today with a meeting scheduled with the #Nationals tomorrow according to sources close to the situation— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) October 26, 2015
Bud Black is lead candidate to replace Matt Williams and could be offered deal as early as tomorrow. Dusty Baker only other candidate left.— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) October 26, 2015
Bud Black is in DC and meeting with Nationals for 2nd time tomorrow and is lead candidate to replace Matt... https://t.co/olHWaigbny— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) October 26, 2015
Will the Nationals make a decision before the World Series starts, or get their second round of interviews in and then announce a new manager once the season is officially over?
Matt Williams was relieved of his duties the day after the Nationals' 2015 campaign came to an end.
GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters after the decision to part way with Williams was made and explained what it was Washington was looking for this time around after choosing a manager with no experience managing at the major league level when they hired Williams in 2013.
"We feel that where we're at in our timetable in our time frame of winning a championship, we certainly would lean towards someone that has some type of managerial experience, especially at the major league level," Rizzo said.
"We're going to be open-minded and look for the best candidate we can that allows us to win a championship here in the very near future."
Can either the 58-year-old Black, whose San Diego Padres (2007-2015) never made it to the postseason, or the 66-year-old Baker, who took all three teams he managed to the playoffs and took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the World Series, take the Nationals over the top?