The most pressing question concerning the Nationals’ on-field staff revolves around whether Manager Davey Johnson will return next season. But the Nationals may have another question to answer: Will they need to replace Bo Porter as their third base coach?
Porter, currently in his first season with the Nationals, will interview for the Florida Marlins’ managerial position next week, according to a source. The Marlins have already asked for and received permission from the Nationals to interview Porter to replace 80-year-old Jack McKeon, who is managing the team now on an interim basis.
Porter, 39, is considered a rising star among managerial candidates, and one baseball source predicted the Nationals would lose Porter to another team this offseason as a manager. Porter has assured General Manager Mike Rizzo that if he does not become a manager elsewhere, he will remain on the Nationals’ staff for next season.
“I want what’s best for Bo,” Rizzo said last week in New York. “I certainly wouldn’t stand in the way of a managing job if he wasn’t the manager here. He’d certainly have my blessing to be the manager somewhere else. We’re that close. I brought him over here to help us here, and I think he’s been a great asset to us.”
Porter declined to comment about his situation.
The Nationals will conduct a manager search whether or not they retain Johnson for next season. They have not narrowed down their final list of candidates, but the Nationals are expected to interview Porter should the Marlins not hire him. The expectation around the Nationals and around baseball remains that Johnson will return next season. If not, Porter is a logical candidate.
Before the 2010 season, Rizzo interviewed Porter for the Nationals’ managerial position, which the team ultimately gave to Jim Riggleman, who had held the position on an interim basis during the second half of 2009.
Rizzo has great respect for Porter, whom he met in baseball circles as a scout and front office assistant while Porter played and started coaching. He became interested in hiring Porter in part through speaking with Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, whom Rizzo drafted during his tenure as the Diamondbacks’ scouting director. Uggla played for Porter for several years in the Marlins organization.
Porter has history with the Marlins. He coached in their organization, at either the minor league or major level, from 2005 to 2009. The Marlins interviewed Porter to become their manager twice last year, once in the middle of the season after they fired Fredi Gonzalez and again in the offseason.
Last offseason, Porter also interviewed for the Pirates vacant managerial position before they hired Clint Hurdle. Porter had taken the Nationals’ third base coaching job even before the Pirates publicly announced their choice.
In addition to coaching third base, Porter coaches outfielders and base running for the Nationals.
White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen has also been connected in rumors to the Marlins’ managerial position, but he still has one year remaining on his contract in Chicago.