CHICAGO — Davey Johnson will become the next manager of the Washington Nationals and will be with the team at least through the 2011 season, general manager Mike Rizzo said on the national broadcast of Saturday's game against the Chicago White Sox.
The announcement completed a surreal two days by placing one of the most accomplished managers of this generation at the helm of baseball's hottest team.
Johnson and the Nationals were still finalizing the deal Saturday afternoon, Rizzo said on Fox. He said Johnson had agreed to an arrangement that has him managing through the end of this season, at which point the Nationals will conduct a managerial search. Johnson, uniquely, could be both a candidate for the position and part of the selection process, Rizzo said.
"Davey's part of the furniture, put it that way," Rizzo said. "He's signed a long-term consultant contract, we're figuring out dotting the i's and crossing the t's on that. But he's going to manage the team through '11. We're going to re-evaluate after the season. Davey will be a part of the re-evaluation process. . . . But Davey is going to be in the organization for a long, long time. As long as Mike Rizzo is running the organization, Davey Johnson will be part of the organization."
Johnson, 68, has managed 14 seasons with four teams and compiled a 1,148-888 record, leading three teams to the playoffs. He last managed in 2000, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1986, Johnson guided the New York Mets to the World Series title. In 1997, he managed the Baltimore Orioles to 98 wins and the American League East crown. After being named manager of the year, he resigned following a dispute with owner Peter Angelos.
Johnson joined the Nationals prior to the 2010 season as a senior adviser. Rizzo hired Johnson for the experience and baseball wisdom he has gathered after more than four decades in professional baseball, which began with his rookie major league season in 1965. At the time, Rizzo said he looked forward to spending spring training, "sitting in a golf cart next to Davey Johnson."
"He's been a great sounding board for me, a great mentor in many ways for me," Rizzo said. "He's one of the guys with the best baseball acumen that I've ever been around. So we're fortunate that he was so close and so available for us, and we're looking for him to take this thing and hit the ground running and for us to continue to focus on baseball and play great ball."
Johnson, who also managed team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympic team Stephen Strasburg pitched for, will become the second-oldest manager in baseball, younger only than 80-year-old Florida Marlins interim manager Jack McKeon. Johnson's age gave Rizzo no pause.
"I have no worries whatsoever," Rizzo said. "You know, Davey's always been on the cutting edge. This is a guy who was employing sabermetrics before there was even a sabermetrician. Like I said, he's a thinking man's manager, he's a player's manager, he's a guy who loves the game, knows the game inside out, and he has a track record that's second to none."