INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The Washington Nationals and Davey Johnson do not have the manager's contract for 2013 finalized, but an announcement appeared imminent Thursday night
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was unsure if the club would have anything "official" by the close of business Thursday but "I'm thinking anytime now," he said. "Soon."
Johnson, who is under contract through 2014 as a consultant to Rizzo, stewarded the Nationals to a 98-win season in 2012 and the National League East Division title. He also is a finalist for the Baseball Writers Association National League Manager of the Year award, which will be announced Tuesday.
While it's appeared to be little more than a formality that Johnson return to manage the club in 2013, he and the Nationals have been hammering out the details of his managerial contract for some time now. Once the two sides wrap things up, the Nationals can focus on filling out his coaching staff and finalizing their roster for next season.
"[Johnson and I] have been talking strategies, players, stuff like that [this whole time]," Rizzo said. "But [getting the contract settled] will clear everything off the table except for what we're trying to work with."
When the Nationals worked out Johnson's contract for 2012, they did it within the confines of his consulting contract and decided to focus the managerial portion of it only on the coming year. They could potentially workout a deal with Johnson that locks him up as the team's manager for a longer period than just the 2013 season, but the terms were not finalized.
Throughout the process, neither side has expressed concern that a deal wouldn't be worked out, and neither appeared surprised that it's taken as long as it has.
The Nationals announced Johnson's return for the 2012 season Oct. 31, 2011 — 32 days after they had concluded the season. It's been 27 days since the Nationals' playoff run ended in October.
Johnson is expected to name his coaching staff shortly after his deal is complete, and one league source said the Nationals are considering moving first base coach Trent Jewett into the vacancy left by third base coach Bo Porter, who was named the Houston Astros' manager.
The Nationals would then fill the spot at first base, likely with someone who could double as an outfield instructor, the way Porter did.
"It'll be Davey's call," Rizzo said of how they round out the coaching staff, though the rest of the staff is expected back. "But we've been communicating about it so we'll move fairly swiftly."
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