Washington third base coach, and former bench coach, Chip Hale will not be returning to the coaching staff, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington on Saturday.
Hale was moved from bench coach to third base coach in 2020, a clear demotion when Davey Martinez shuffled coaching duties following the team’s 2019 World Series win. Martinez said the changes were rooted in his desire to keep the staff sharp following the 2019 World Series win.
The initial shifts came when Martinez began swinging the responsibilities of coaches. Hale moved from bench coach to third base, something he was surprised by and not thrilled about, Tim Bogar moved to bench coach and Bob Henley became the first base coach.
“It was interesting,” Hale said last offseason of the change. “I was surprised. Had not heard anything about it until I got home, so was a little bit taken aback. You’re blessed to be a coach in the major leagues. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of guys that are vying for your positions. I’ve coached a lot of third in my day, whether it’s managing through the minor leagues, coaching third in Arizona, Oakland, New York. So, I enjoy it. I enjoy being on the field. Feel a little bit more like you’re still playing. We’ll do the best we can to help the guys run the bases and score a lot of runs.”
Earlier in the week, pitching coach Paul Menhart was told he would not return to Martinez’s staff. That decision was not surprising. A report Saturday also said hitting coach Kevin Long would not be returning to the Nationals, though that report has not been confirmed elsewhere. If so, that would be very surprising.
Hale’s departure is not a large surprise. He was initially hired to support Martinez, who took the job with vast overall baseball experience, but no managerial experience. Hale and Bogar both managed in the past. They were installed as an initial support system for Martinez. Three years into the position, everyone in the organization has seen significant growth from Martinez. He received a three-year contract extension in September as a result.
Changing coaching staff members following a downtrodden season is not uncommon. The Nationals were among MLB’s worst teams in 2020 because of poor play, injuries and general underperformance. Roster alterations will join these coaching moves in the offseason.
Also, Martinez is now in a position to alter the coaching staff as he sees fit. That was not the case when he was hired.
Jon Heyman first reported Hale would not return.