Former Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell arrived in Washington on Friday morning. By Friday evening, he will be gone, headed home after meeting with Nationals representatives Friday in D.C., according to people familiar with the situation. He becomes the third confirmed candidate interviewed for the Nationals’ managerial vacancy. They hosted Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez on Thursday night and have also contacted New York Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, though he has not interviewed yet, according to a person familiar with the situation.
As of late Friday night, the Nationals had not offered the job to anyone, according to a person familiar with the situation. Farrell’s visit was short, which does not necessarily indicate anything at all, but was shorter than Martinez’s visit.
If the Nationals are hunting a manager to win them a World Series, as General Manager Mike Rizzo articulated in the aftermath of Dusty Baker’s departure, Farrell is one of the two obvious candidates with a title to his name. His former American League East rival, Joe Girardi, is the other.
The Nationals, who pursued Girardi when they first moved to D.C., remained unsure of the veteran’s interest as of Friday morning, according to a person familiar with the situation. Girardi, whose contract was not renewed by the New York Yankees, would likely command a greater financial commitment than any of the other candidates, though he is the most experienced of all of them.
After Girardi, Farrell is the most obvious veteran candidate, and he has the 2013 World Series win with Boston to his name. But the 55-year-old comes with baggage (reports of a relationship with a Boston-area reporter) and the specter of having reportedly lost the respect of the Red Sox clubhouse in recent months. He was fired Oct. 11 after the Red Sox lost in the AL Division Series for the second consecutive year — a parallel experience to Baker’s with the Nationals during the past two seasons. Farrell managed the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012 and has a 586-548 record as a manager all-time. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic first reported the Nationals’ interview with Farrell.
But Martinez is viewed as the front-runner, in part because he represents a departure from what the Nationals had in Baker. He is young and inexperienced but is well-regarded within the game and has interviewed previously with the Nationals. If they are hunting the next Dave Roberts or A.J. Hinch — relatively inexperienced managers who proved capable of handling veteran teams on their way to this year’s World Series — Martinez could be a worthy gamble and will come at a lower cost and require less commitment than a big name such as Girardi or Farrell.
The Lerner family has little history of signing managers to lengthy deals — Baker’s was for two years — but people familiar with their thinking say the Nationals might be willing to provide a longer deal to their next manager, in part because of the state of the market. Alex Cora and Ron Gardenhire signed three-year deals to manage the Red Sox and Detroit Tigers, respectively. The Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees are the other teams in the market for a manager; since Martinez has not been reported as a front-runner for either job, a bidding war for his services seems unlikely. Farrell, on the other hand, traveled to Washington from Philadelphia after interviewing with the Phillies. The extent of their interest in Farrell, a former big league pitcher and longtime pitching coach, is not clear.
So, as of Friday afternoon, the Nationals’ list of managerial candidates stood at three, officially: Farrell, Long and Martinez. Girardi’s status remained uncertain, though he could become a fourth. The organization does not have a set timetable for making a decision, according to people familiar with the front office’s thinking, though Baker’s deal — forged in the wake of the Bud Black misadventure — took less than a day to come together. The Nationals could have a new manager as soon as next week.
Barry Svrluga and Jorge Castillo contributed to this report.