Baker out as Nationals manager

Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the Washington Nationals in 2018, the team announced on Friday.

Baker led the Nats to first-place finishes in the National League East in both of his seasons at the helm in Washington, but saw his team eliminated in the Division Series each year. The 68-year-old manager was in the final year of his contract.

"The Lerner Family, on behalf of the entire organisation, would like to thank Baker for his two years in the dugout," the team said in a release.

"He led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in our history and represented our club with class on and off the field. We wish him the best going forward."

Baker went 192-132 at the helm in Washington, continuing a winning track record he had established in previous stints leading the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds to the playoffs.

But he could not get the Nats over the hump in the postseason, falling in a five-game NLDS thriller to the Cubs this month after being edged out 3-2 by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the same round in 2016.

The Nationals job immediately becomes the most attractive opening on the market, with the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies still searching for managers. The Detroit Tigers named Ron Gardenhire as manager on Friday.

Washington will again be boast a stacked roster heading into 2018, with all of their core players except Jayson Werth still under contract for at least one more season -- the final year of general manager Mike Rizzo's contract.

It is 2019 that looms as a potential issue, with Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters set to be eligible for free agency following next season.


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