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Washington Nationals’ manager search: Dave Martinez early frontrunner in D.C.?

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Will the Washington Nationals go for the big name out there now that Joe Girardi is available, or will they take a chance on an unproven skipper like Dave Martinez, who is reportedly the early frontrunner for the job...

MLB: Chicago Cubs-Spring Training Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since Joe Girardi’s out there and available now, the Washington Nationals should, of course, sign him... I mean, right? Except maybe not? The news on Thursday morning that Girardi would not return to New York after leading the Yankees to within one game of the World Series led to plenty of speculation yesterday that he might fit in the nation’s capital.

Thus far though, the Nationals’ brass hasn’t shown much interest in spending big on a manager, though there has been mutual respect and admiration on both sides at least according to the reporting years ago and what the now-former Yankees’ manager said during the Nats’ previous manager searches.

Girardi is coming off a four-year/$16M deal, and if he isn’t going to take some time off before his next gig, he’s likely to command something in that range, with an increase in salary likely. A deal like that would be unprecedented coming from Washington.

Will the Nationals seize the opportunity to lock up a well-respected manager who did, however, just get let go following a 91-win season, with the word out of NY, at least according to ESPN’s Andrew Marchand, that what the Yankees are looking for in their next skipper is someone who, “... will use advanced metrics, has a good rapport in the clubhouse and can handle the New York media.”

New York Yankees v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The implication there, of course, is that Girardi is not fully on board with the available advanced metrics, doesn’t have a good rapport with the clubhouse, and didn’t handle the media well.

From the reporting on what led to his exit, as Marchand put it, “Girardi’s workmanlike approach to everything left him somewhat distant from the guys he led.”:

“With Girardi having no use for social media, the press, TV and radio were his conduit to fans, and his lack of openness left him largely unpopular toward the end of his tenure.”

The Nationals are entering a possible transition period as well, and things could be real different after the 2018 campaign, when Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and more could be on the way out, not to mention GM Mike Rizzo, who like both Harper and Murphy, is only signed through next season as of now.

With Girardi’s experience, is he the kind of manager who can lead an established team to the next level after the Nationals have won four division titles in the last six seasons and lost in the NLDS each time?

Will the Nationals, who tried to hand things over to an unproven manager once before, when they signed Matt Williams, who had things go pear-shaped in his second season in D.C., take another risk on a rookie manager like Dave Martinez or Kevin Long, who are both rumored to be under serious consideration.

Williams was reportedly the manager Rizzo handpicked when Washington was looking for Davey Johnson’s replacement.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote today that, “one person close to the situation,” with the Nats, “... surmised that [Rizzo] lost his autonomy on managerial picks,” when Williams didn’t work out.

Will the Lerner family, who according to Heyman’s reporting, and other sources, were ultimately behind the decision to let Baker walk, go for the well-known commodity in Girardi or take another chance on a first-time skipper?

Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga, citing sources with knowledge of the Nationals’ search, wrote Thursday night that Martinez, the Chicago Cubs’ bench coach, was in D.C. to be interviewed for the job:

Though Girardi has only been on the market for twelve hours and his plans going forward are unclear, Heyman reported that according to his sources, Martinez is currently considered the early frontrunner for the Nationals’ gig.

“Martinez, who has interviewed for many managerial jobs, is seen as the right man for the job, at least by some people in the organization. It’s also a positive sign for him that the Nats are believed to be moving fast in their managerial search and hoping to have a new skipper in the week after the World Series.”

Whatever decision they make is sure to receive plenty of scrutiny since the decision to move on from Baker didn’t impress or make sense to many in the baseball world. Will a first-time manager be able to step in and guide the Nationals back to the postseason for a third straight season?

Will Martinez, Long, Girardi, or any of the other possibilities, take Washington where Johnson, Williams, and Baker could not?