Davey Johnson still doesn’t have a contract with Nationals

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It’s been assumed that Davey Johnson will manage the Nationals in 2013, but Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the two sides still haven’t agreed to a deal.

Johnson is technically under contract with the Nationals through 2014 as a senior advisor–which is the role he filled before replacing Jim Riggleman as manager in mid-2011–but Kilgore writes that “the language (and salary) of his deal must be altered before his return to the dugout is sealed.”

And that’s where it gets interesting:

Even though it seems likely Johnson will come back, it should necessarily not be taken for granted. Johnson is a prideful man who has parted ways with four teams in the past, often in surprising and acrimonious fashion; in Baltimore, he was forced out on the day he won the Manager of the Year award. In the past, Nationals ownership has shown an unwillingness to pay top dollar for managerial talent.

Johnson has maintained all along that he’s perfectly fine waiting to get the contract settled, but clearly the situation is at least a little more complicated than initially expected.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?