Facing a tenuous future even after leading the Dodgers to the NLCS, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly hopes to return to Los Angeles. But if he cannot broker an agreeable arrangement with Dodgers management, Mattingly would be open to considering the Nationals’ managerial vacancy, his agent Ray Schulte said.
“We’re hoping the Dodgers have a great conversation with Donnie and he continues to manage out there,” Schulte said. “If that’s not the case, he’s aware that organizations like Washington and Chicago and Seattle would be great organizations, too.”
Mattingly has managed the Dodgers for the past three seasons. The Nationals wanted to interview him for their managerial vacancy prior to the 2010 season, but he declined and remained the Dodgers’ bench coach under Joe Torre. The Nationals ultimately retained then-interim Jim Riggleman. General Manager Mike Rizzo and Mattingly have maintained a mutual respect.
“He knows Mike,” Schulte said. “I know they’ve talked during games. He has a lot of respect for Mike and for Davey Johnson and what he did with the team. He thought they were a formidable foe. He knows they have a lot of talent.”
The previous two days have been tumultuous for Mattingly and the Dodgers, a strange cap to a remarkable season. Monday afternoon, Mattingly revealed in a press conference that an option in his contract for the 2014 season had vested when the Dodgers won the NLDS. Then he instantly added, “That doesn’t mean I’ll be back.”
Mattingly explained he no longer wanted to manage if he had only one year remaining on his contract, a situation that led to ceaseless scrutiny and speculation during the 2013 season and playoffs.
This afternoon, the Dodgers fired bench coach Trey Hillman and scout Wade Taylor, two close friends of Mattingly, according to a report by CBS Sports. Hillman, CBS later reported, was offered the chance to remain in the organization.
Mattingly returned home to Evansville, Ind., today, Schulte said. Soon, Schulte said, Mattingly and Dodgers President Stan Kasten will sit down and hash out their situation. Incidentally, Kasten served as the Nationals’ team president from 2006 through 2010.
“He’s waiting to have his year-end meeting with Stan,” Schulte said. “Obviously, he’d like to have longevity for the sake of the organization and for himself. We’re looking at it within a short period of time when that will take place.”
Because Mattingly is currently under contract for 2014, the Nationals would have to contact the Dodgers and ask for permission to interview him – if they wanted to. Schulte said he is not aware of any such contact. The Nationals have declined comment. Kasten did not immediately return a phone message.
The Nationals view Mattingly as a strong managerial candidate, but they may be too far along in their process to seriously consider him. They have already interviewed at least five candidates they like. Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams is viewed by people close to the organization as the frontrunner, and likely would remain so even if the pool of candidates included Mattingly. Bench coach Randy Knorr is the players’ favorite and is viewed as the strongest internal candidate.
Mattingly, 52, drew widespread criticism for some of his strategic decisions during the playoffs. But he also shepherded a star-filled, high-profile team though an uneven season to come within two games of the World Series. A few moves may have backfired in October, but Mattingly proved himself a capable leader as the Dodgers went from last place in midseason to runaway NL West champions.
It remains to be seen whether the Nationals will show interest in him. But if things fall apart in Los Angeles, Mattingly would be open to coming to Washington.