The Nationals still aren’t close to extending Dusty Baker

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Entering Saturday’s contest against the Rangers, Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker has guided the club to a division-leading 38 wins. He’s sitting on a 1804-1592 career managerial record and hasn’t seen a losing record since 2011, when the Reds took third place in the NL Central with a 79-83 finish. Other than a World Series ring, the only thing he’s missing is a contract extension, which would give him a landing spot when his two-year, $4 million contract expires after this season. That, however, appears to be the one thing the Nationals are reluctant to give him.

The Nationals were open to an extension back in January, according to a report from Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, who also noted that the two sides had yet to open talks. No concrete show of faith has been made by the club yet, though, and it’s unlikely that a deal will be struck while the season is in full swing. Washington general manager Mike Rizzo addressed the issue prior to the series opener against the Rangers on Friday. Via MLB.com’s Jamal Collier:

It’s not going to be an issue, we’re not going to let it be an issue,” Rizzo said. “Dusty’s a true professional. Been through the rigors of the regular season a million times; I’ve been through it a million times. Suffice to say that there’s great communications, great respect between the front office and the managerial office.

Baker, meanwhile, has repeatedly affirmed his desire to continue his career in Washington. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of affection between the 67-year-old skipper and his general manager, and it’s clear that the players value his presence in the clubhouse. The Post’s Thomas Boswell instead chalks the problem up to some reluctance on the owners’ part, speculating that the Lerner family could be dragging their feet simply because that’s the way they’re used to dealing with past managers. If that’s the case, it might take Baker the rest of the season — and a World Series title — before his achievements are appropriately rewarded with an extended stay in Washington.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.