With the start of Spring Training and Dusty Baker’s second season on the bench in the nation’s capital fast approaching, there is likely to be renewed chatter about whether or not the Washington Nationals will extend the veteran skipper beyond 2017?
Baker, 67, signed a 2-year/$4M deal in November of 2015, and led the Nationals to an NL East crown, their third in five years, but another NLDS loss.
He told reporters this winter that he enjoyed his first season in D.C.
“I've enjoyed my time here,” Baker said.
“This is probably one of the best stops I've had outside of San Francisco, which is home.
“I really like D.C., I like the surrounding area, I like the people here, I like the educational level here. I liked everything about here, other than sometimes it rained a little too much, the rain delays. But other than that, it was great.”
Baker’s staff enjoyed their first season in Washington as well.
“A year ago, kind of came in, didn’t know anybody, didn’t know the city,” Pitching Coach Mike Maddux told reporters this winter.
“Come October? What a great fanbase. Tremendous fan base. They’re hungry for the Nats. We gave them a Red October, wasn’t as long as we wanted, wasn’t as long as they wanted. But a great city.
“Pleasant surprise at that, even though it’s a large metropolitan area, world famous, it’s kind of a small town. I like that a lot and the fans have really opened up their arms for the players and the coaching staff, and it was neat. It was Small Town, USA in the middle of the nation’s capital.”
“I’ve been with a few organizations, playing, coaching,” Bench Coach Chris Speier said.
“And the one thing that I like, I think, right from the top, all the way through, it’s pretty congruent with winning.
“In past situations you’ve had the difficulty of say, management maybe being on a different path than what we as players or coaches want to be on. That has been, beyond a doubt, just a great feeling here.”
With a year together things should be easier this season, Speier explained.
“It’s big,” he said. “It really is. I think you get an understanding not just of their physical attributes and what they’re able to do, but then them as people, as players, as teammates. It’s really big. And then the comfort zone of working with these guys for a year and then now next year having that relationship built for a whole year, it’s big.”
Will the Nationals keep Baker and his staff beyond 2017?
Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo wrote last month that the Nats were, “... willing to talk to Baker about extending his contract,” though according to his sources, the two sides hadn’t discussed an extension at that point.
Will the Nationals, who have gone through six different full-time managers (seven total since 2005), keep Baker and his staff around for some stability on the bench?