After a disappointing 2015 season, the Washington Nationals have dismissed manager Matt Williams as of Monday morning, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post. Williams had one year left on his contract.
Nats make it official: Matt Williams and the entire coaching staff dismissed. Nats starting completely anew.— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) October 5, 2015
With a team record $164 million in payroll and a National League East that was lacking talent, the Nationals appeared destined to repeat as division winners and many even pegged them as the favorites for the World Series.
Injuries to key players like Stephen Strasburg and Denard Span kept the Nationals from realizing their full potential. Even when fully healthy, the Nats' couldn't put together a complete stretch in time to catch the soaring New York Mets.
But Williams, the 2014 National League Manager of the Year, contributed greatly to the downfall of the 2015 Nats. From a mismanaged bullpen to having key players sacrifice bunt in a close game, Nationals fans and the front office grew weary of Williams and his overmanaging.
All of this hostility and disappointment culminated in an incident on September 27th, when a fight broke out between closer Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper in the Nationals dugout. According to Williams, he did not see the incident, nor did he ask anybody about it. Then allowed Papelbon to pitch the next inning, a move he later admitted was a mistake. This would be the final nail in the coffin for a manager who had clearly lost his team.
Now with Williams gone, the Nationals can focus their attention to finding their new skipper. General manager Mike Rizzo, if he is not also on the chopping block, would like a quick resolution to this vacancy. Having a manager in place before the winter meetings and the start of free agency can only help the Nationals turn the page on an awful and dysfunctional season, and focus on 2016.