The Washington Nationals, after failing to reach the Major League Baseball playoffs, have announced that manager Matt Williams was officially relieved of his duties. The move was revealed on Monday, one day after the regular season ended.
Williams took his first managerial stint two years ago when he joined the Nationals; he reportedly had one year left on his contract before the termination. The former professional baseball third baseman helped the team win 96 games in 2014 and was named National League Manager of the Year in his first season as manager.
Washington finished the recent regular season with a less than impressive 83-79 after being tipped as the NL East favorites as well as potential World Series champions. In recent weeks, the Nationals have been in the hot seat with a highly publicized dugout scuffle between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. Moreover, several players were reported to be unhappy with William's management style, including Jayson Werth who supposedly confronted the manager over an alleged miscommunication.
On Sunday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo mentioned prior to the team's season finale match against the New York Mets that the Nats were "not going to let people twist in the wind." As expected, the management overhaul has quickly began.
Aside from William's dismissal, the organization also said that it will not be renewing the contracts of seven members of the team's coaching staff: bench coach Randy Knorr, pitching coach Steve McCatty, hitting coach Rick Schu, third base coach Bobby Henley, first base coach Tony Tarasco, bullpen coach Matt LeCroy, and defensive coordinator/advance coach Mark Weidemaier.
The team will likely be facing a critical offseason this winter as it is rumored to be losing several important members, particularly Ian Desmond, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann. In the case of Desmond, there are indications that the shortstop will not be rejoining the Nationals next season.
An apparently emotional Desmond spoke to reporters on Sunday's match and hinted that it will be his last game wearing the franchise's uniform. "When I got drafted by the Expos, they didn't know where the team would be. But they couldn't have found a better home. I'm extremely proud to say that I was a Washington National," Desmond said.
The 30-year-old shortstop is Washington's longest-tenured player. He was a third-round pick in 2004 by the Montreal Expos, a team that was under Major League Baseball at the time. Desmond debuted with the Nationals as a 23-year-old in 2009. During his seven years with the team, he had hit .264 with 110 homers, 432 RBIs and 121 stolen bases, resulting to three straight Silver Slugger Awards from 2012 to 2014. He also made his lone All-Star team back in 2012 when he performed 25 home runs, drilled 33 doubles and batted .292.