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Nationals hire Dusty Baker as new manager

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Nationals hire Dusty Baker as new manager

In a stunning twist to cap a tumultuous 24 hours, the Nationals announced Tuesday morning they have hired Dusty Baker as their new manager, negotiations with initial choice Bub Black having fallen apart over the weekend.

Baker, a 3-time NL Manager of the Year Award winner with 20 seasons of experience at the big-league level, receives a "multi-year contract," the club announced. No more contract details were released.

"We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship," managing principal owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. "During our broad search process we met with many qualified candidates, and ultimately it was clear that Dusty's deep experience was the best fit for our ballclub."

That wasn't the Nationals' initial conclusion. After meeting at least eight candidates for the job over several weeks, the club informed former Padres manager Bud Black on Wednesday he was the choice, according to a source familiar with the decision. The two sides then attempted to negotiate a contract, but talks fell apart when the Nationals were unwilling to offer Black more than two guaranteed years, the source said.

Unable to find common ground, the club then turned back to Baker, who had been the other finalist for the job, and hashed out details of this deal with the 66-year-old late Monday night.

Whether the Nationals made a better offer to Baker than Black isn't clear yet, but the organization has never previously given its manager more than two guaranteed years since the Lerner family took over as owners in 2006. (Davey Johnson, the highest-paid of the team's previous five skippers, did have an extra year on his deal to serve as a consultant with the team after he left the dugout following the 2013 season.)

Baker has a wealth of experience with the Giants, Cubs and Reds, having guided all three franchises to the postseason and the 2002 Giants to the World Series (where they lost to the Angels team that employed Black). The former major-league outfielder won three NL Manager of the Year awards with San Francisco (1993, 1997, 2000) and owns a 1,671-1,504 overall record.

Fired by the Reds after losing the 2013 NL Wild Card Game to the Pirates, Baker has been out of baseball the last two seasons but has sought multiple managerial openings, including the Nationals' job two winters ago. The Nats didn't interview him that time, ultimately selecting Matt Williams off Arizona's coaching staff, but included him in the process this time and clearly were impressed with the California native during his pair of interviews.

"I am so pleased to welcome Dusty Baker to the Nationals family," general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. "In getting to know Dusty and identifying what we wanted in the next on-field leader of our team, we are excited to have him on board. Dusty's experience, as a winning player, coach and manager, is vast and varied. We are excited to bring him to Washington and put his steady demeanor, knowledge and many years in the game to work in our favor. I think I speak for the entire organization when I say I am very much looking forward to working with him."

MORE NATIONALS: Nats having second thoughts on Black, may turn to Baker

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.