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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 3: Dusty Baker hired as manager

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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 3: Dusty Baker hired as manager

We are counting down the 10 biggest moments of 2015 for the Nationals as we approach New Year's Day. In the eighth installment, we look at the hiring of Dusty Baker as manager...

After the dismissal of Matt Williams, who was hired in the fall of 2013 without any previous MLB managerial experience, the Nationals set out this time around looking for a veteran manager, someone with a proven track record who wouldn't need time to learn on the job. That led them through an extensive search, one that included a bizarre saga involving a reported contract dispute with former Padres skipper Bud Black.

Despite the unusual circumstances of their search, the Nationals ended up with a very solid result. In comes Dusty Baker, he of 20 seasons as an MLB manager, a man who has done absolutely everything in the profession except coach a team to a World Series title. He, in fact, came within one game of that goal in 2002 with the Giants.

There will be no learning curve for Baker, who at 66-years-old has seen and done just about everything in the game of baseball. He will step in on Day 1 ready to lead those in the Nats clubhouse, just as he did in San Francisco, Chicago and Cincinnati.

There are, of course, questions that come with Baker's hiring, as there was a reason he was available for the Nationals this offseason. There are reasons he was out of the game for two years between stops.

Is he a retread manager whose best years are behind him? Can he adapt to new ways of thinking in baseball, given his past statements on analytics and history of wearing out pitchers? Time will tell on all of that, of course, but he does possess what the Nats appeared to be missing in the dugout under Williams.

Baker is in many ways the anti-Matt Williams. He is not nearly as intense and buttoned-up, with a big focus on having fun and letting players be themselves. His experience should come in handy both within games and inside the clubhouse, where it's unlikely he will lose the respect of his players.

He also, as we have seen already, seems more likely to speak his mind. That could benefit the Nationals privately, and maybe even publicly as well. Williams was often criticized by fans for not reacting properly to important wins and losses. It does not seem like Baker will hold back, no matter the situation.

The Nationals decided to go in the exact opposite direction from the inexperienced Williams by hiring Baker, who ironically was his mentor and former manager. Whether they made the right decision has yet to be determined, but there is no question it will be a much different dynamic with Baker in charge. 

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More from the countdown:

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 10: Scherzer signs

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 9: Trade deadline series vs. Mets

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 8: Scherzer's second no-hitter

Nats 2015 biggest moments No 7: Harper's 3 homers vs. Marlins

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 6: Final chance vs. Mets

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 5: Scherzer's first no-hitter

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 4: Williams' downfall as manager

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

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Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

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