After announcing that Dusty Baker would not return as the Washington Nationals’ skipper last week, GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, “additionally, the contracts of the coaching staff have also expired, and the Nationals’ search for a new manager will begin immediately and we will work with that person to build a new coaching staff.”
But they were totally going to keep Mike Maddux, right? Rizzo said the decisions on the coaches, would, be a group decision.
“As we do with all these decisions, they’ll be a team decision,” he explained.
“The manager obviously will have a great impact and great input on who we hire,” Rizzo added, “always, but it will be a group/team decision for the betterment of the organization.”
If they had any hope that pitching coach Mike Maddux, whose staff posted a 3.88 ERA (third-best in the NL), a 3.99 FIP (also third-best), 3.08 BB/9 (third-lowest in the NL), 9.06 K/9 (third-highest in the NL), and a .236 BAA (third-lowest as well), would return to the nation’s capital in 2018, that hope ended today when the St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they signed Maddux.
The Nationals went after Maddux back in the winter of 2015, signing him up shortly after agreeing with Baker. Rizzo was effusive in his praise of the pitching coach after the signing was announced. Maddux and Baker both got two-year deals at the time.
"Michael had, in his contract, he had an out," Rizzo said, referring to Maddux’s deal with the Rangers, which allowed him to survey the market that winter.
"He had a window to discuss with other teams. We took that opportunity to discuss with him generalities and then later on when we made the Dusty decision and got Dusty finalized, Mike became a free agent at that time and he was the first guy after I talked to Dusty about it, he was the first guy that we went after and we went after him extremely hard and aggressive and we got him and in one day he made his decision."
"He's not only a mechanical expert with arm angles and tweaking of deliveries and that type of thing, but he's a mental skills expert,” Rizzo said.
“He really knows the ins and outs of pitching. He comes from a great pedigree, he's had great success and he's got a great resume. So, he's a guy that knows the whole gamut of the art of pitching and he comes with a respect factor from the players that's hard to beat."
So add a pitching coach to the list of needs for the Nationals... after they find a new skipper. There are some big decisions to make this winter... especially for a team that has won back-to-back division titles.