Matt Williams has made a strong first impression on his players in his first spring training as the Nationals’ manager. He’ll have two years to make one on Nationals management.
When the Nationals hired Williams in late October, he signed a two-year contract that includes two team-option seasons, according to multiple people familiar with the deal. The Nationals, citing team policy, have not released the terms of Williams’s deal, and the length of his contract have not previously been made public.
A two-year contract for a first-time manager is typical. After the 2011 season, the Cardinals signed Mike Matheny to a two-year contract with a team option; they have since granted him a three-year contract extension.
Other rookie managers hired this offseason received more security than Williams. The Tigers, Phillies, Cubs and Reds announced three-year deals for Brad Ausmus, Ryne Sandberg, Rick Renteria and Bryan Price.
The Nationals have never shown a proclivity for long-term managerial deals.The Nationals gave the same length of contract to Manny Acta in 2007, the last time they hired a manager without prior major league managerial experience. The Nationals fired Acta midway through 2009. Jim Riggleman signed a one-year contract with a team option in 2010, and he eventually resigned in the middle of 2011. Davey Johnson worked under one-year deals that included provisions to keep him in the organization in a front-office capacity.
The grind of the season, with inevitable rough patches losing skids, will provide a truer judgment, but the Nationals’ veteran players have so far been a proponent of Williams. Midway through his first spring training, Williams, 49, has developed a reputation for an aggressive style, detailed, purposeful preparation and strict but fair expectations for his players. He manages with an upbeat demeanor, throwing batting practice and hitting grounders himself. Both players and support staff have found him engaging and likeable.
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