Former Rays Coach Dave Martinez Named Nationals Manager

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 3: Rays bench coach Dave Martinez with Joe Maddon.(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 3: Rays bench coach Dave Martinez with Joe Maddon.(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

Former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and an original Devil Ray finally gets his due, as he is formally named manager of the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals officially named former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez as their new manager on Monday morning, however the official news conference is on hold until the conclusion of the World Series.

On Sunday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported the hiring of Martinez to replace Dusty Baker. At the time the Nationals had not made any type of announcement, however no long afterwards, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post confirmed the report, which was a three-year deal with an option for 2021.

"“We are delighted to bring Dave aboard and excited about what he will bring to our clubhouse and our dugout,” said owner Ted Lerner in a statement announcing the hire. “We have been very clear about our goals as an organization and we feel confident we’ve found the right man to help us reach them.”"

In recent off seasons, Martinez name emerged as a managerial candidate for numerous teams, including the Nationals back in 2013 and 2015. Nonetheless, the Nationals instead chose to go with Matt Williams and Dusty Baker respectively. Most recently, Martinez interviewed for the Dodgers managerial job that went to Dave Roberts.

Thought was abound, including high endorsements from Rays players that Martinez would succeed Maddon as manager, however, despite being granted an interview he was not among the three finalists and thus announced that he would be leaving the Rays. In Dec. 2014, Martinez was hired by the Chicago Cubs as bench coach, reuniting him with Maddon.

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Upon the firing of Baker, Martinez name emerged as the frontrunner last week making him the Nationals top choice to replace Baker following interviews with former Red Sox manager John Farrell and New York Mets hitting coach Kevin Long.

Martinez has no managerial experience, but is highly regarded throughout MLB and with ten years under Maddon’s tutoring and the players high regard the Nationals finally reeled in the man they passed over two other times.

In early October, Maddon told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he is puzzled as to why Martinez had not received any serious consideration for managerial opening in recent years.

"“It’s baffling to me a bit why (Martinez isn’t considered) more often. He’s been around a lot of winning teams here, and not only that, him as a player, that’s what drew me to him a bit with the Rays. I never had been with him as a teammate but watched him play. He was such a heady, aggressive, gritty kind of player and bilingual. All that matters. He’s not afraid to have tough conversation a lot of times people in that position may shy away from.”"

The third time is a charm for Martinez as he gets what no other Nationals’ manager received, which is a three-year deal with an option for a fourth year. The deal marks the first time under the ownership of the Lerner family that they have given a guaranteed contract longer than two years.

“I am excited to bring Dave into our family,” Washington GM Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “As we went through this process it became clear the type of manager we were looking for – someone who is progressive, someone who can connect with and communicate well with our players, and someone who embraces the analytical side of the game. We came away from the process feeling like there was absolutely no one better suited – who matched up to what this organization needs right now – than Dave.”

Martinez is likely to bring some of Maddon’s managing style to the Nationals – but more importantly a fresher approach to the game and certainly a more relaxed culture. Additionally, he is fluent in Spanish, comes with a great reputation as a player’s manager, is knowledgeable with analytics and is well deserving of the position despite not have any previous managerial experience at any level.

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“It’s time for him to hold his own baby and go out there and have his voice be heard,” Joe Maddon told reporters Thursday on a conference call. “Obviously, we’re all pulling for Davey. It’s the right time for him.”

Although Baker’s teams won two Divisional titles, he was unable to guide them into the League Championships series with one of the most potent lineups and pitching staffs.

With Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy leading the offense along with starters Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark, Martinez inherits a team that should be at the top of the NL East standings in 2018 and undoubtedly contend for a deep post-season run.

A playing career that spanned 16-years, Martinez made his MLB debut in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs before stops in Montreal, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and the White Sox. Signed as a free agent in December 1997 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Martinez was traded a month into the season to the Cubs and over the next three months would be traded to Texas and Toronto.

Following the 2000 season, as a free agent Martinez signed a two-deal with the Atlanta Braves for 2001 and 2002. His career ended in 2002, as he would miss the entire season with a knee injury. In 1,919 games played, Martinez had a .276 career batting average, 1,599 hits, 91 home runs, 795 runs scored, and 580 RBIs.

Martinez in his short time with the Devil Rays has his name in the record books as he has the honor of being the first player in franchise history to record the first hit in 1998.

In the past few days, the Tampa Bay Rays organization have not made any player moves, but they have been tied to two and a possible third former player heading into the managerial ranks.

Next: Longoria and Cobb Named Rays Gold Glove Finalists

Martinez follows Mickey Callaway, who pitched for the Devil Rays (1999, 2001) and was hired last week to manage the New York Mets and earlier today Todd Zolecki of reports that the Phillies are ready to hire Gabe Kapler  as their new manager.