Second-year Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters earlier this Spring that he wanted to manage beyond this season after leading the Nats to a division crown and an NLDS loss in his first season in the nation’s capital in 2016.
He stressed, however, that he didn’t want talk of an extension to become a distraction.
Baker, 67, returned to managing for the first time since 2013 and led the Nationals to 95 wins in his 21st season on the bench and the first year of the reported 2-year/$4M deal the veteran manager signed with the Nationals in late 2015.
“I mean, everybody likes security,” Baker said, as quoted by Washington Times’ writer Thom Loverro, when asked about a potential extension early in Spring Training:
“Everybody likes to know what their future is going to be even though it doesn’t amount to much. But I’m very confident that we’d get things worked out. You’d like to do it sooner rather than later because I don’t want to be a distraction to my team.”
Baker also said he thought he’d proven his worth to the organization:
“I see my importance in the organization has grown since I’ve been here. That’s worth something.
“And as much as we’re a young organization, I’ve been around a while.
“Everybody comes to my office, from the trainers to the PR department to the media department to the community relations department. I feel like I’m helping out on all fronts.”
GM Mike Rizzo too told reporters he wanted to make sure talk of Baker’s future didn’t distract from the task at hand as the Nationals prepared for the 2017 campaign, while simultaneously praising the work Baker has done.
“We’re not going to talk about Dusty Baker’s extension,” Rizzo said this Spring, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo:
“It’s not going to be a distraction. Dusty Baker’s got a reputation and an aura that precedes any length of contracts. He’s our manager. He’s a great manager, one of the best in the game. And with his energy and the way he’s feeling, he’s capable of managing well beyond this season.”
With a week to go before the start of Baker’s 22nd campaign on the bench, however, no extension has been announced, and from what Rizzo said in an MLB Network Radio interview last week, it sounds like a potential extension won’t be discussed until after the end of the 2017 season.
“We’re not going to talk about it publicly,” Rizzo reiterated when asked if there was any progress in negotiations.
“But he’s a guy that, if he wants to manage beyond this season he has the energy, the fortitude, the experience and the mastery of it to be able to do so.
“He’s a great manager, one of the best I’ve ever been around and we’ll see how he feels at the end of the season and I don’t see it as a distraction because I have the utmost respect for the man and feel he’s one of the best in the business.”
“It appears Dusty Baker’s extension will wait,” FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote tonight.
“The sides are currently not engaged in talks, and Baker has just this year remaining at around $2 million. ‘I ain’t worried. Why worry about (it),’ Baker said, characteristically.”