The Washington Nationals do not want Dusty Baker’s contract situation to be a distraction, with general manager Mike Rizzo telling reporters that “it’s not going to be an issue” on Friday.
The 67-year-old Baker led Washington to the 2016 NL East title in the first season of his two-year deal, which expires after this season. The Nationals are again atop the NL East, with a 10.5-game lead on the Atlanta Braves entering Saturday’s action.
On Thursday, Baker said that he wanted to return next season.
“Why not? This is what I came here for,” Baker told the Washington Post, adding that there have been no formal talks about his future with the team.
“I didn’t come for two years. I came to win back-to-back titles. “I mentioned it to one of the primary people (in the front office), and I mentioned it to (Rizzo) one time. That’s enough. They know.”
One day later, Rizzo said the matter will not be a distraction.
“It’s not going be an issue,” Rizzo told reporters Friday. “We’re not going to let it be an issue. Dusty’s a true professional. He’s been through this, the rigors of the regular season, a million times. I’ve been through it a million times. It’s suffice to say there’s great communication, great respect between the front office and the manager’s office.
“The way that we describe is that we do business the way we’ve done business for a long time, and we’ve done it very successfully. … We’re not going to allow it be a distraction because we have too many things to accomplish this year, and everyone’s on the same page to accomplishing it.”
The Nationals are Baker’s fourth managerial stop over his career, with him having won 1,804 games over 22 seasons.
Ace pitcher Max Scherzer didn’t hide his preference, and he hopes the Nats step up and re-sign Baker.
“Those are ownership decisions,” he told the Post. “We love him. We want him here. They want to be patient, but I hope they don’t mess with this clubhouse.”