All of this, plus the resources of a top-10 market such as Washington, makes the Nationals job so appealing. Although it is not immediately clear if the Nationals have begun contacting candidates, two former managers could be intrigued by the vacancy: Bud Black, the former longtime San Diego Padres manager, and Rick Renteria, briefly the Chicago Cubs manager and Black’s former bench coach.
Black has the resume befitting of a strong candidate. The 58-year-old managed the Padres for 8 1/2 seasons, posting a 649-713 record. Under Black, the Padres failed to reach the playoffs, including a collapse in the final month of the 2010 season, when they missed the postseason by two games. But Black still won the NL Manager of the Year award that season, and is well-respected across baseball for his ability to deftly handle a pitching staff and relate to players.
The Nationals pride themselves on pitching, which has been the backbone of their winning teams. So Black, a former 15-year major league starter and later a pitching coach, would be appealing. He is also known for his easygoing nature and people skills. One of the criticisms of Black in San Diego was young hitters’ inability to develop under him but, if he lands on a pitching-first team with a capable lineup, he could fit well.
Black was fired by the sputtering Padres in mid-June, their hastily overhauled new team not performing to lofty expectations. This postseason, Black is serving as a guest host on MLB Network Radio. Asked about the Nationals on Wednesday, Black had kind words.
“Very attractive position, very good team, great city,” he said. “That’s good one.”
The Nationals are competing with, for now, only the Padres and Miami Marlins for manager candidates but more could join. The Seattle Mariners hired a new general manager and Manager Lloyd McClendon is thought to be on the hot seat. Black, born in California, went to high school in Washington state. One of his daughters graduated from the University of Maryland last year.
Black wouldn’t be the only person from those San Diego teams who could be a potential Nationals candidate. Renteria was Black’s bench coach for three seasons. He was hired by the Cubs and managed them to a 73-89 record in 2014. In the offseason, the Cubs dismissed Renteria after telling him he would return; they wanted to pursue Joe Maddon, who had exercised the opt-out clause in his contract with Tampa Bay.
Renteria, 53, was a former major league infielder. He managed in the minor leagues before becoming a major league coach. He is a fluent Spanish speaker, known for relating to the Cubs’ young Latin players, and even managed the Mexican national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. But he has only one year of experience and the Nationals, Rizzo said earlier in the week, recognize they want to win now and experience will be a key.
“We feel where we are in our timetable toward winning a championship, we lean toward someone who has managerial experience at the major league level,” Rizzo said broadly about future managerial candidates on Monday.
Renteria is interested in managing again, according to a person familiar with the situation. Since his dismissal from Chicago, he has been approached by teams with coaching jobs, but Renteria has goals of returning to the manager’s role.