Now-former Washington Nationals’ pitching coach Paul Menhart told veteran Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga last week that when Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez called him and told him he, Menhart, wasn’t being retained, the manager said the club was looking for, “... an older, more experienced guy, a major league-experience guy,” to guide their staff in 2021 and beyond.
That call led to some confusion for Menhart, who asked himself after 15 years as part of the organization, “‘Who in the world could be more experienced?’ That’s just human nature to say, ‘Well, who’s better than me?’”
In a subsequent conversation with GM Mike Rizzo, Menhart said he was told, “that it was up to Davey to pick his own staff,” having signed a multi-year extension with the team after they won the World Series in his second year on the bench in 2019, and struggled to a last place finish in the NL East this past season.
“I completely understand,” Menhart told the WaPost reporter.
Menhart’s departure is not the only change on Martinez’s staff, apparently, with multiple reports this afternoon of additional departures:
Source: Kevin Long is not expected to return to the Nationals as hitting coach in 2021. Long’s three-year deal just expired and he is expected to pursue other options outside of Washington.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) October 10, 2020
Can also confirm more changes to Davey Martinez's coaching staff. Pitching coach Paul Menhart was informed last week he's not being brought back. Third base coach Chip Hale and hitting coach Kevin Long have now also been informed they're not being retained, per sources.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 10, 2020
Long, 53, joined the Nationals days after Martinez’s hiring was announced in late 2017, and he spent the past three seasons as the hitting coach in the nation’s capital, after he served as in the same role in the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system, and in New York for the Yankees and Mets.
Hale, 55, was hired in November 2017 as well, and was the bench coach for the first two seasons of Martinez’s tenure in D.C., but he moved to third base when the skipper shook things up following the World Series win in ‘19.
“Davey was offered a three-year extension,” Menhart told the WaPost’s Svrulga:
“... and he wasn’t given the opportunity three years ago to pick his own staff. So what I got from Mike Rizzo is that he wanted this time around the chance to pick more of his own coaches. And I totally get that.”
With those three out, that leaves franchise lifer (practically, if not literally) Bob Henley, who coached first in 2020 after coaching third the previous two seasons under Martinez, and Tim Bogar, who coached first base in 2018-19 before moving into the bench coach role in 2020, as well as bullpen coach Henry Blanco, on the staff in D.C.
In addition to the shakeup on Martinez’s staff, the Nationals announced the following roster moves in the last two days:
#Nats update: Paolo Espino and Aaron Barrett have declared free agency.— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) October 10, 2020
In addition, Roenis Elías cleared outright waivers and has declared free agency. Elías was on the 60–Day Injured List. The move does not impact the 40-man roster number, which remains at 37.