Washington Nationals Manager: Who Could Replace Dave Martinez?

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Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez walks back to the dugout after a pitching change during a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves early Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Rachael Millanta @rachaelmillanta May 05, 2023, 3:56 PM
  • Dave Martinez has been Washington Nationals’ manager since 2018.
  • He led the team to win the World Series in 2019, the only playoff appearance of his managerial career.

The sale of the Washington Nationals has been officially paused for the time being, but that doesn’t make Dave Martinez’s future in the dugout any more certain.

Washington won the World Series in 2019 under Martinez’s leadership but followed that with records of 26-34 in 2020, 65-97 in 2021, and 55-107 in 2022. As of May 5, the Nationals are 13-18 through their first 31 games of 2023 with astronomical World Series odds of +100000, and even for a team deep in a rebuild, that’s pretty underwhelming.

When the Nationals are eventually sold, the new owners will likely want to appoint their own GM and manager to start fresh. Considering the sale has been paused, Martinez may be safe until at least the end of the season, as the current owners are unlikely to bother making too many waves before they wash their hands of the team.

Regardless, it’s likely Martinez’s days in Washington are numbered, so here are some potential replacements.

Miguel Cairo

Cairo joined the Chicago White Sox in November 2020 as bench coach to Tony La Russa, but he stayed relatively under the radar until the following season’s Field of Dreams Game. 

While La Russa attended a family funeral, Cairo stepped up as interim manager for the team’s trip to Iowa and on Aug. 12, 2021, he led the White Sox to victory over the New York Yankees amongst the cornfields.

After returning to his bench coach role, Cairo became interim manager of the White Sox on Aug. 31, 2021, when La Russa went on medical leave. The ailing team quickly turned things around under his leadership, winning seven of their first 10 games with Cairo in the dugout.

When La Russa retired at the end of the 2022 season, the White Sox hired Pedro Grifol to take over as manager, passing on hiring Cairo as a permanent replacement. 

Instead, Cairo took over the position of minor league infield coordinator for the New York Mets, but I won’t be surprised to see him interviewing for managerial vacancies in the near future.

Joe Espada

Considering Espada’s name is thrown around every time there’s a managerial vacancy, it’s genuinely surprising he hasn’t landed a role yet. 

The current bench coach for the Houston Astros has unsuccessfully interviewed for the top position with the Rangers, Blue Jays, Twins, Giants, Cubs, Mets, and Athletics in recent years, so it’s clear he wants to manage — is this his opportunity?

Despite not yet landing the top job, Espada has plenty of experience in baseball. 

He’s worked as a bench coach, third base coach, special assistant to the GM, and infield coach, plus multiple positions in the minors, so he’s got plenty of experience to draw upon should he be given his big chance.

Perhaps the Nationals will finally be the right fit.

Don Mattingly

Could Donnie Baseball still have more to give as a manager?

Mattingly served as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2011-15, leading the team to three playoff berths and a 446-363 record. He went on to serve as manager of the Miami Marlins from 2016-2022, but only managed one winning season (2020), after which he won NL Manager of the Year. 

Mattingly left the Marlins with a disappointing record of 443-587, and after mutually agreeing to part ways with the team, he joined the Toronto Blue Jays as their bench coach for the 2023 season. 

I’m sure he’d jump at the opportunity for another go at managing a team, but after his run in Miami, will Mattingly be given another chance?

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About the Author

Rachael Millanta

Read More @rachaelmillanta

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.