MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reported Thursday that Williams was the front-runner to replace Johnson, saying that Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo “was impressed by the way Williams managed the Salt River Rafters to the finals of the Arizona Fall League last year.”
Matt Williams #9 of the Arizona Diamondbacks watches from the dugout during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 23, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Mutiple sources report Williams will be the new coach of the Washington Nationals. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Williams is a five-time All-Star third baseman who played for the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks. Ironically, Johnson went out as coach for the Nationals with a loss to the Diamondbacks, Sept. 29.
MLB rules prohibit teams from making major announcements during the World Series.
Joining WTOP Friday, Ladson said Williams has an old-school baseball mentality and that he appears to have been Rizzo’s top choice since last summer.
Rizzo also was the Diamondbacks’ scouting director in 2001, when Williams played third base for Arizona and the team won the World Series, according to Bleacher Report.
“Apparently Matt Williams blew (Rizzo) away during the interview process,” Ladson said.
Ladson said Williams also likely benefited from the success of Mike Matheny, a former catcher with no minor- or big-league managerial experience who now has the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Williams has managed in the Arizona Fall League and served a two-month stint as an interim manager in Double-A.
WTOP has reached out to the Nationals for comment.
Williams will manage differently
Adam Kilgore, Nationals reporter for the Washington Post
Williams was the front-runner all along
WTOP’s Jonathan Warner talks to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson