The Washington Nationals will hire Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams as their manager, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The team hopes to retain Randy Knorr, who was also a candidate for the vacancy, as their bench coach in 2014.
Williams, 47, has long been considered a frontrunner for the job that was left vacant by the retirement of Davey Johnson, who spent two and a half years as the team's manager. In addition to Williams and Knorr, who was also considered a strong candidate, the Nationals also interviewed third-base coach Trent Jewett, Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale and Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus.
As Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported earlier in the week, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was especially impressed with how Williams managed the Arizona Fall League's Salt River Rafters to a league championship last season. Rizzo and Williams also have history working together with the Diamondbacks, as Rizzo was the team's scouting director while Williams played for the team in the early 2000s.
In seventeen major league seasons with the Giants (1987-1996), Indians (1997) and Diamondbacks (1998-2003), Williams was a lifetime .268 hitter with 378 HR and 1,218 RBI. In addition to being named to the National League All-Star team on five occasions, the third baseman won four Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers during his career.
After retiring following the 2003 season, Williams became a partial owner of the Diamondbacks and worked in the front office and broadcast booth until beind hired as the team's first-base coach for the 2010 season. He spent a season at first before being moved to third-base coach, where he has spent the last three seasons.
Williams interviewed for the Rockies' managerial opening last offseason, and was considered a finalist before the team chose Walt Weiss.
With the Nationals hiring Williams and the Reds selecting Bryan Price to be their manager, three managerial vacancies remain in the major leagues. The Tigers, Cubs and Mariners all are in the process of naming a new skipper and are expected to do so in the near future.