WASHINGTON — “I think I’ve earned more than I’m being paid.”
In the short term, it’s a nice feeling for anyone to know that he’s worth more than he’s being paid. That’s what job security is founded on, and it’s a good place to start contract negotiations.
But the situation is growing uncomfortable for Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who had another candid discussion on the topic with Chelsea Janes from the Washington Post.
Baker says his feelings on managing the Nats beyond this season haven’t changed. But neither has the stance from his employer.
“Why not? This is what I came here for,” Baker said. “I didn’t come for two years. I came to win back-to-back titles.”
With a win over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night, the Washington Nationals pushed their 2017 record to 38-21, 17 games over .500.
That’s also 12 games ahead of the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves in the woeful National League East, a lead that should grow as the season wears on.
The Nats are still a long way from locking up the division, but they are on pace for 104 wins, a franchise record. Even if they played .500 baseball until the end of September, it would give them 90 wins and a very good chance at the crown in the East.
Even with the Nats’ path to the playoffs in clear sight, general manager Mike Rizzo indicated where Baker stands. “Our priority is to focus on the team this season, and to win these games, but we’re not going to mistake that for not making him a priority.”
Janes reports that Rizzo recommended an extension for Baker before his current deal expires, preferring to get one done in Spring Training. The Nationals have a reputation for spending freely on players and lightly on managers, which is part of the reasons why Baker became a bargain option for them.
The Washington Post also reported that while players do not view the situation as a distraction, each player voiced his support for the manager.
The feeling for many is that an extension is a “when,” not an “if,” although Rizzo could not promise that would happen before the offseason.
“He’s very important to the organization,” Rizzo said. “You don’t get a 1,800-win manager in your clubhouse every day. He’s still a terrific manager. Our relationship is great. We hope to continue that.”