Just as the Nationals' managerial search appeared to be poised to enter a more advanced phase, a development on the other side of the country could throw some wrenches into the plan.
Don Mattingly's departure from Los Angeles early Thursday morning will have ripple effects across the majors, with the former All-Star first baseman now available for hire elsewhere and an attractive Dodgers job now open for several candidates already up for other managerial positions, including in Washington.
Given general manager Mike Rizzo's stated preference for a new manager with experience, Mattingly would be a logical candidate at least to speak with the Nationals. Owner of a .551 winning percentage and three division titles in five seasons with the Dodgers, he is a well-respected figure around the sport with plenty of experience managing a club in a big market with lofty expectations and several high-salaried star players. Questions about his ability to get along with some of those star players in Los Angeles, though, could be a detriment from the Nationals' perspective.
Mattingly, 54, will have other suitors. The Marlins reportedly are interested and could make an aggressive push to hire him. The Mariners and Padres also are currently seeking new managers.
Even if the Nationals aren't seriously interested in Mattingly, his sudden availability could have a domino effect on their ongoing search. Among those the Dodgers could now consider include former Padres manager Bud Black (seen by many as the best fit in Washington), Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez (seen as a potential Nationals candidate now that Chicago has been eliminated from the postseason) and Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach (who has interviewed with the Nats, according to Yahoo! Sports).
The Nationals are close to wrapping up their initial round of interviews, having already met with at least eight candidates, according to sources with knowledge of their search: Black; Wallach; former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire; former Giants, Cubs and Reds manager Dusty Baker; Giants bench coach Ron Wotus; Diamondbacks third base coach Andy Green; Diamondbacks Class AAA manager Phil Nevin; and former big-league infielder Alex Cora.
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