The Nationals plan to name Bud Black their next manager, a source familiar with the decision confirmed Wednesday night, but an official announcement isn’t likely until after the conclusion of the World Series sometime next week.
Black, who managed the Padres from 2007-15, was selected by the Nationals from a pool of at least eight candidates, including fellow finalist Dusty Baker. Both longtime big-league skippers were in town Monday for a second round of interviews with club executives, including general manager Mike Rizzo and members of the Lerner family.
The Washington Post was first to report Black’s pending hire.
Black, 58, becomes the sixth full-time manager in Nationals history, which extends back only 11 years. None of the club’s previous managers since the franchise relocated to Washington in 2005 lasted more than 2 1/2 years on the job, with Matt Williams the latest to go after only two seasons in the dugout.
Upon announcing Williams’ firing the day after a disappointing 83-79 season concluded, Rizzo cited previous experience as a priority in his forthcoming search. Most of the candidates he interviewed fit that description, including Baker (who spent 20 seasons managing the Giants, Cubs and Reds), Ron Gardenhire (13 seasons managing the Twins) and longtime big-league bench coach Ron Wotus.
Black was seen throughout baseball as the frontrunner all along, his 8 1/2 seasons leading the Padres along with his background as a former pitcher and strong relations with players making him a strong fit for the Nationals. The left-hander, who spent 15 years in the big leagues in the 1980s and ’90s, was pitching coach for the Angels when they won the 2002 World Series, then became San Diego’s manager in 2007.
A native of Longview, Wash., Black was highly regarded during his time with the Padres despite a 649-713 record, zero postseason appearances and only two winning seasons. (He did earn NL Manager of the Year honors in 2010.) His firing on June 15 with San Diego’s record at 32-33 was viewed throughout baseball as more of an indictment of the new front office’s failed attempt to build an instant winner through dramatic roster changes than of Black’s actual managerial performance.
The Nationals made their final decision on Black within the last 48 hours, according to the source, but intend to adhere to Major League Baseball’s longstanding request that clubs not make significant news during the World Series. Thus, a formal announcement and press conference isn’t likely to take place until sometime next week.