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Nats GM Rizzo: Team was in talks with both Dusty Baker, Bud Black


Nats GM Rizzo: Team was in talks with both Dusty Baker, Bud Black

Acknowledging the unique nature of the situation, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday the club was simultaneously negotiating contracts with both Bud Black and Dusty Baker to be their next manager, had not selected Black for the job and ultimately didn't make the decision to go with Baker instead because of a financial disagreement.

"It was a unique situation," Rizzo said shortly after the news conference to introduce Baker as the Nationals' sixth manager. "We had both of the candidates in the running here. At the end of the day, it did not come down to money. It did not come down to term. It came down to who were we — meaning the general manager, the president of the team, and ownership — most comfortable with. And Dusty was the right choice."

Speaking publicly for the first time since last Wednesday's reports that Black had been chosen for the job, Rizzo admitted the Nationals were deep in negotiations with the former Padres skipper but insisted Baker was never out of the running.

If that was true, Baker wasn't aware of it. After reading the reports of Black's expected hiring, he "resigned myself to the fact that I had to deal with another disappointment" and went to Santa Cruz, Calif., for a book tour.

"I was a little bewildered as to why no one had told me that I didn't get the job," Baker said. "And I found out later, and now I know why. Because they hadn't made up their mind. ... I got a very touching call from [Nationals managing principal owner Ted] Lerner. He told me that I was not out of the running and I had a good chance of getting the job."

Rizzo insisted the Nationals kept Baker abreast of the situation throughout.

"Dusty, in our mind, was never out of it," the GM said. "We kept in contact with him, specifically through our assistant general manager, Bob Miller, who had a relationship with him with the Cincinnati Reds for years. So they know each other extremely well. They were in constant contact with each other. Bob was giving the message that I wanted him to give to Dusty: We were still interested, and don't close the book on us."

It's not common practice for major-league clubs to negotiate contracts with two managerial candidates at the same time. Typically, a club would offer the job to one candidate, engage in contract talks and nearly always come to terms on an agreement.

Rizzo admitted the process in this case was not typical.


"No, it was a unique situation," he said. "We uniquely had two extremely qualified candidates, and we felt that was the best track to go by. Because sometimes the negotiating process also tells you a lot about the people that you're negotiating with. As we discussed baseball in the interview process, and parameters in the financial process, we came to the conclusion that Dusty Baker was the perfect guy for us."

One possible reason for the convoluted and confusing manner in which this saga played out was the significant role Nationals ownership held in both the interview and negotiating process. The franchise's board of directors — which includes several members of the Lerner family, other minority owners and Rizzo — was directly involved throughout the process.

"When we make these big decisions, they certainly have input and they are involved," Rizzo said. "And I think that's good for the organization. We learn from each other. We get input from each other. And at the end of the day, we come down to it with a singular voice and make that decision."

Lerner family members attended Thursday's news conference but left without speaking to reporters. Rizzo, who in his position as president of baseball operations and GM has final say on baseball decisions, was left to speak for the organization.

"When we make a decision baseball-related, I make the final choice," he said. "I'm the president and general manager of the baseball team. But when we leave that room, we are unanimous. That's what has happened with every major decision we've made, and it continued to happen with this decision."

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Beats by Scherz: Why Scherzer chose Dr. Dre song as his walk-up music

Beats by Scherz: Why Scherzer chose Dr. Dre song as his walk-up music

NEW YORK – A few constants remain during this wayward Nationals season. One is Max Scherzer.

Scherzer comes into Tuesday leading the National League in innings pitched and strikeouts. He's second in strikeouts per nine innings and third in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Scherzer's 3.72 ERA is well above his average of 2.71 since arriving in Washington in 2015. However, his FIP (fielding-independent pitching) is a league-leading 2.45, showing he has been victimized by bad defense more than bad pitching.

He hopped on a pop-up edition of The Racing Presidents podcast Tuesday in New York. Sitting in the visitors dugout a day ahead of another matchup with 2018 Cy Young Award Jacob deGrom, Scherzer touched on lighter topics, like his selection of Dr. Dre's "Still Dre" as his walkup song, and addressed who is responsible for the Nationals being seven games under .500 the last year-plus.

We're all responsible," Scherzer said. "When you wear a hat and jersey that says Nationals on it, we're all in the same position. It's frustrating to not have a winning record. It's frustrating not to be winning as a team. [Since] I've been here, we've won a couple division titles and you know that feeling of what it's like to win. You know you have the core group of players who have won here in the past that can win here again. It's just a matter of figuring out what the right chemistry is and going out there and getting it done."

Scherzer is in his 12th major-league season. He's made at least 30 starts for 10 consecutive seasons. One of the reasons for his lack of injuries and durability is not because he goes through extensive recuperation during the offseason. Instead, Scherzer keeps pushing both his arm and body. 

"I try to find a way to continue to do more, to take more on my body even as I age," Scherzer said.

And, about that walkup song, which is part-protest, part-comeback song? He was out to dinner with reliever Aaron Barrett when it popped on and Barrett suggested it as this year's entrance music.

So, click below to listen to everything Scherzer had to say in our exclusive interview. Also, don't forget to download, rate and subscribe to The Racing Presidents podcast. We're with you after every game and with marquee interviews and insight you can't find elsewhere.


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The history of Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier's beef, explained

The history of Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier's beef, explained

Ever since they were teammates in Chicago on the White Sox, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier haven't gotten along. Here's a breakdown of Eaton and Frazier's beef, and how it boiled over during Monday's 5-3 loss to the New York Mets.


Eaton and Frazier started their tenure with the White Sox on bad terms. The team was in the midst of a full rebuild, and Adam LaRoche retired after his son, Drake, was no longer allowed in the clubhouse.

With what appeared to be a vacuum in leadership, Eaton tried stepping up but it fell on deaf ears, particularly Frazier's.

Frazier, whose locker was next to Eaton's, called him out for being a phony according to 670 the Score. That spat led to a locker room fight.

Eaton's locker was then moved across the room from Frazier's, and the two were both eventually traded for picks and prospects.


During the Nationals' visit to New York on August 26, Eaton slid hard into second base, injuring Phillip Evans on the play. The Mets challenged the play as a violation of the slide rule, but Major League Baseball's review determined the slide was allowed.

The Mets didn't take kindly to it. Pitcher Zack Wheeler drilled Eaton, and as he trotted to first base, Frazier chirped him on his way there and Eaton responded.

 “When he usually talks or chirps, usually he says it just loud enough that you can hear him but you can’t understand him," Eaton told MASN after the game. "So I’ll just leave it at that.”


That brings us to Monday's 5-3 loss against the Mets. In the bottom of the third inning, as he was jogging to the dugout, Eaton got an earful from Frazier.

Eaton jawed back at Frazier, and other Nats players were ready to come to Eaton's defense before first base umpire Mike Estabrook impeded Eaton's progress toward Frazier.

After the game, Eaton unloaded. 

"I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point," Eaton explained. "So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

While Frazier kept quiet after the game, Tuesday he noted that Eaton should go "pay off your mortgage."

Before game time tonight, Eaton called the beef "high school stuff"

Will tonight's beef escalate during the game? Tune in at 7 p.m. to find out.