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MLB notes: Dusty Baker gone as manager of Nationals after 2 NL East titles

MLB notes: Dusty Baker gone as manager of Nationals after 2 NL East titles
In this Sept. 13, 2016, file photo, Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker pauses in the dugout before a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park in Washington. (Alex Brandon / AP)

Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

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The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 — also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended.

As for general manager Mike Rizzo, here is what he said before the outset of the NLDS: "We're both confident that he'll be back with us, but we haven't had any conversations about it."

Despite a host of injuries to key players, the Nationals went 97-65 this season, finishing 20 games out in front in their division.

In 2016, Baker's first in Washington, the club was 95-67, and he finished third in voting for NL Manager of the Year.

In all, the 68-year-old has spent 22 seasons as a big league manager, accumulating more than 1,800 regular-season wins with the San Francisco Giants, Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Nationals.

He was a player in the majors for 19 years.

"I think Dusty's great. The whole coaching staff. ... They do such a good job of making sure they relate to us. That's a great group of guys in there. They're just as much deserving of the success we've had as we are. They probably work harder than us, to be honest with you," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said last week. "I think everyone in this room would love to have them back."

Other teams currently looking for a manager include two other members of the NL East: the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tigers hire Gardenhire as manager

The Detroit Tigers have hired Ron Gardenhire as their manager, bringing the longtime Minnesota Twins skipper back to the AL Central to take over a team in the middle of a significant rebuilding process.

The Tigers announced the move Friday, saying Gardenhire has agreed to a three-year contract.

Gardenhire takes over for Brad Ausmus, who was let go after four seasons as Detroit's manager. The Tigers went 64-98 this season, finishing tied for the worst record in the majors.

The 59-year-old Gardenhire was the bench coach this season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He managed the Twins from 2002-14, going 1,068-1,039. He's one of 10 managers in baseball history to win at least 1,000 games with one team.

Tigers general manager Al Avila confirmed that the club is declining their $16-million option on right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who slipped badly over the last three seasons. He went 3-7 with a 6.41 earned-run average in 2017.

UPDATES:

6:35 p.m.: This article has been updated with the hiring of Ron Gardenhire as manager of the Detroit Tigers.

This article was originally published at 10:15 a.m.

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