The Washington Nationals and Davey Johnson are not yet ready to officially announce the manager’s contract for the 2013 season, though the deal is nearly finalized. But when they do, it is expected to be the final season in the dugout for Johnson, who will turn 70 in January.
A source confirmed multiple reports Friday that while the deal remains on the brink of completion, outside of reversal of course during the season, the Nationals will most likely be in the market for a new manager next offseason.
For Johnson, after a 98-win campaign in 2012 that saw the Nationals win the National League East title but lose in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, coming back for 2013 often seemed like little more than a formality. Still, while he remains under contract as consultant through 2014, the two sides spent several weeks after the season hammering out the details of his managerial pact for next season.
Johnson is a finalist for the BBWAA Manager of the Year Award and is considered by many to be the favorite for the honor, which will be announced on Tuesday.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said twice this week at the GM Meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., that he was expecting the deal to be finalized “anytime now” and left no room for speculation to the contrary. Both sides appeared confident and unconcerned.
If 2013 does indeed end up being Johnson’s final season, the manager will finish with potential Hall of Fame credentials. If the Nationals’ season ends up as successful as they hope it will — culminating with a World Series championship — Johnson’s resume will be exceptionally strong.
Johnson has now taken four different teams to the playoffs, the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and the Nationals. He’s won one World Series ring (with the Mets in 1986).
As for who may take over once Johnson does leave the dugout, the Nationals have said they’d prefer to promote from within their organization and bench coach Randy Knorr appears to be the leading candidate. While they were in the minor leagues Knorr managed almost all of the homegrown players on the Nationals 25-man roster in 2012. Coach Trent Jewett and Triple-A manager Tony Beasley would also likely be considered as internal candidates.