Are Joe Girardi and Dusty Baker On Washington Nationals' Radar?

By James Williams
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals are, for the moment, waiting to see if the New York Yankees‘ offer made to  Joe Girardi is accepted.

Talks between the Yankees manager and his present GM Brian Cashman are progressing, but a deal must be done by October 31 or he becomes a free agent. Most baseball insider’s feel he will be back with New York, but will they pay his price? He wants to be the highest-paid manager in baseball, and that could be an issue for the Yankees, who are looking at a big payroll cut in 2014.

Last week, prior to the Yankees and Girardi starting their talks, the Nationals asked for permission to talk to the Yankees manager. New York declined the team’s request, saying he remains under Yankees control until the end of the month.

If he declines the Yankees’ offer to continue as their manager, then he becomes the Nationals’ top free agent agent target in the offseason. They would love to have him fill the manager’s job — a job that has been open for less than a week after Davey Johnson‘s retirement last Sunday.

If Girardi is a free agent, expect him to be very interested in the Washington job. In 2006, the Nationals talked to Girardi about replacing Frank Robinson as the team’s manager. He turned down the offer and as we all know, went on to take the Yankees job.

But the 2013 Nationals are a team that Girardi could guide to the playoffs for many years to come, and maybe even to the World Series. He also knows that the Lerner family will not only make him the highest paid manager in baseball, they have proven they will spend for any free agents that may be needed.

While there is no doubt that the Nationals can make a case to Girardi that coming to Washington would be a great move, remember there are other factors in play. Girardi is a native of the Windy City and the Chicago Cubs will likely be willing to hand him a blank check.

That brings us to another manager with a track record of winning, the recently fired Dusty Baker. The Cincinnati Reds  felt that it was time to move on and parted ways with Baker. A number of Nationals front office members, including assistant GM Bob Boone, know Baker well and will likely to give him at least an interview.

All he did was get the Reds to the playoffs three out of the last four years. At 64, he might seem a bit too old for some, but he is one of just six managers to win division titles with three teams.

Look, the Nationals have a very talented young team that has limitless potential. Their biggest offseason move will be — as I have pointed out often — hiring a manager to replace Johnson. Washington will talk to a number of candidates that are ready to become MLB managers. They would foolish not to talk to proven winners like Girardi and Baker.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and add him to your Google circles.

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