Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) October 31, 2013
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - The Washington Nationals named Matt Williams as the team’s field manager on Thursday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract with the five-time All-Star and former Arizona Diamondbacks coach, GM and President of Baseball Ops. Mike Rizzo announced.
The agreement culminates a thorough process by the Nationals to find a successor to Davey Johnson, whose tenure as the team’s manager came to an end after 2 1/2 seasons.
Last week a report surfaced pointing to Williams as the team’s next manager, after he was perceived to be the lead candidate for much of the coaching search. The report indicated an announcement of his hiring was expected to come at the conclusion of the World Series.
“I am thrilled to welcome Matt to our organization and am confident he is the best choice to lead the Nationals at this time,” Rizzo said. “He is exceptionally prepared for the task. Matt came into the interview process already possessing an extensive knowledge of our organization: our roster, our Minor League system – and our fan base.
“He has genuinely creative, unique ideas on how to increase performance, and on cultivating leadership and team unity.”
In drawing comparisons between Williams and Davey Johnson, Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny, “He will implement sabermetrics and be aware of positioning and trends. He’s gonna be a great communicator.”
While the Nats reportedly have had talks about retaining Randy Knorr – who also interviewed for the position, and was the personal favorite of multiple players within the Nats locker room – as bench coach, Rizzo discussed some of the details of those conversations on The Fan.
“Matt first of all reached out and talked to Randy when we decided that Matt was going to be the manager,” Rizzo said. “They’ve had some good conversations. I know that Randy is planning on meeting with Matt Williams out in the Arizona Fall League so they can get familiar with each other, and Matt can familiarize himself with the players in that league.”
Williams, 47, comes to the Nationals after four years on the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff, the last three as their third base coach. A decorated player during his 17-year career, Williams becomes the organization’s fifth manager since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005.
Williams is a rookie Major League manager, but Rizzo’s relationship with him dates back more than 10 years, to their time together in the Diamondbacks organization – and this is a role in which he long thought Williams could thrive.
“I saw first-hand the leadership qualities he possessed as a player, on the field and in the clubhouse,” said Rizzo, who was a part of the Diamondbacks front office for seven years before joining the Nationals in 2006. “He’s been someone on my radar as a potential manager for years. Matt was a great player, but he also understands just how much hard work goes into becoming a great player. In the second phase of his baseball life, he has channeled the intensity he had as a player into becoming an intellectual coach with a calm, confident demeanor.”
“I think it’s great,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said of the hire. “He’s a younger guy who was a good player and knows the game. I’m looking forward to getting to know him a little bit… I don’t think we were too far away from where we needed to be, and I think we’re all looking forward to next year.”
Follow this link to read the full press release.