The Washington Nationals are zeroing in on Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez as their next manager, and that will mean even more changes to Joe Maddon's staff in an offseason already full of surprises.
Martinez interviewed in Washington late last week and had been viewed as an early frontrunner for a job that comes with World Series-or-else expectations.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network and FanRag Sports first reported Sunday morning that the Nationals are expected to announce the Martinez hire once the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros finish this year's World Series, ending Major League Baseball's news blackout.
In becoming a first-time manager during Bryce Harper's last season before becoming a free agent, Martinez brings 10 years of experience as Maddon's bench coach with the Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays, the credibility from a long playing career in the big leagues and a fluency in Spanish as well as all the analytics that now run the modern game.
Martinez will need all of that and more in replacing Dusty Baker, who won back-to-back division titles during his two seasons in Washington and still got fired after the Cubs beat the Nationals in a one-run elimination game in the divisional round of the playoffs. (It's worth noting that Baker only got that job once negotiations collapsed with Bud Black, a sign of some of Washington's internal drama.)
The Cubs are hoping the changes will help reenergize the team and refocus Maddon, who will already be working with different pitching (Jim Hickey), hitting (Chili Davis) and third base (Brian Butterfield) coaches in 2018.