FILE - In this March 11, 2017, file photo, Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker talks to reporters in the dugout before playing New York Mets in a spring training baseball game in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Nationals announced Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, that Baker won't be back next season. Baker led the Nationals to the NL East title in each of his two years with the club. But Washington lost its NL Division Series both times. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Baker gone as manager of Nationals after 2 NL East titles

October 20, 2017 - 12:53 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 — also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended.

As for general manager Mike Rizzo, here is what he said before the outset of the NLDS: "We're both confident that he'll be back with us, but we haven't had any conversations about it."

Despite a host of injuries to key players, the Nationals went 97-65 this season, finishing 20 games out in front in their division.

In 2016, Baker's first in Washington, the club was 95-67, and he finished third in voting for NL Manager of the Year.

In all, the 68-year-old has spent 22 seasons as a big league manager, accumulating more than 1,800 regular-season wins with the San Francisco Giants, Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Nationals.

He was a player in the majors for 19 years.

"I think Dusty's great. The whole coaching staff. ... They do such a good job of making sure they relate to us. That's a great group of guys in there. They're just as much deserving of the success we've had as we are. They probably work harder than us, to be honest with you," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said last week. "I think everyone in this room would love to have them back."

Other teams currently looking for a manager include two other members of the NL East: the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.

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