The news on Thursday that Joe Girardi had been fired as the manager of the New York Yankees was more than a little surprising. But once the shock wore off, it didn’t take long for people to start wondering how Girardi would fit with some of the teams who are currently looking for a new manager. And the Washington Nationals, who fired manager Dusty Baker last week, flew right to the top of the list.
Before Nationals fans start doodling “Harper & Girardi 4-ever” (and a bunch of hearts) in their notebooks, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman is here to throw cold water on those dreams.
initial word hearing out of DC is that girardi is "not likely." for one, nats don't believe in paying big bucks to manager.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 27, 2017
There might be other reasons that the Nats aren’t interested in Joe Girardi, but if their first priority is money, the other reasons don’t matter so much.
The fact that money seems to be the big driver here isn’t entirely surprising. The Nats have a history of underpaying their managers. The Nationals had yet to pick up manager Jim Riggleman’s contract extension in June 2011, and he became so fed up that he unexpectedly quit after a game. After the Matt Williams debacle in 2014-2015 (which included one player actually strangling another player in the dugout), the Nats had picked Bud Black to manage the team in 2016. But Black was reportedly “deeply offended” by the team’s initial contract offer and talks broke down.
After Black declined, the team ended up hiring Dusty Baker at $2 million a year. That’s half of what Girardi was making with the Yankees. To put that in perspective, the Nationals had the ninth-highest opening day payroll in 2017, coming in at just over $167 million. Jayson Werth and Max Scherzer both made over $20 million this year, and Stephen Strasburg made over $18 million. It’s clear that the Nationals (and the Lerner family, the principal owners) are willing to offer big contracts, but for some reason they want to nickel and dime their manager.
Despite the team’s history of underpaying their managers, crossing Girardi off the list immediately because of his potential salary demands is just insane. Girardi managed the Yankees to a World Series, six playoff appearances, and ten straight winning seasons. His managerial record speaks for itself. And in some ways, he’s the perfect manager for the Nationals. It’s a team with huge personalities, which Girardi has some experience with. Plus, Nats aren’t just desperate to win in the playoffs, they’re desperate to be taken seriously as a perennial contender. Hiring Girardi would show that the Nationals are serious about being taken seriously.
Girardi could be the perfect manager for the Nationals, but we’ll likely never know. If the Nationals have made a low salary their first priority in managerial hires, that puts Girardi out of the running. At this point, if the Nats *really* want to keep that manager’s salary low, they should just turn it into an unpaid internship. How could that go wrong?
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