The Angels have hired Braves third base coach Ron Washington to fill their managerial vacancy, reports Jon Heyman of The New York Post. He has signed a two-year contract with the club, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The Angels have now announced the hiring of Washington.
The Angels parted ways with manager Phil Nevin as the 2023 regular season was winding down and recent reporting suggested they were leaning towards an experienced manager to take the gig. Washington, 72 in April, surely fits the bill there. After his playing career ended, he quickly transitioned into a coaching role in the early ’90s, working for the Mets and Athletics.
He got his first managerial gig with the Rangers going into 2007. After a few middling seasons, the club broke out in 2010 and 2011. They won 90 and 96 games in those two seasons, respectively, going to the World Series both times. Though they didn’t win the title in either of those trips, those remained the only two World Series appearances in franchise history until the club finally won it all here in 2023.
The Rangers won 93 games in 2012 but lost the Wild Card game to the Orioles. Another 91 wins followed in 2013 but that left them just a single game out of the playoffs. Things took a sour turn in 2014, with the club falling in the standings. They would eventually finish 67-95 and in last place in the American League West, but Washington was already gone by then. He resigned in early September, citing an off-the-field matter, which he later admitted was an extramarital affair.
He has been in various coaching roles since that time, having joined the Athletics in May of 2015 and then Atlanta going into 2017. He has received interest from clubs with managerial vacancies over those years but this will now be his first gig as a bench boss since that eight-year stretch with the Rangers. His hiring appears to be part of a trend among some clubs who have opted for experienced managers of late. The Astros hired Dusty Baker going into 2020 when he was 70. The Rangers hired 67-year-old Bruce Bochy a year ago, just one season after the Mets hired 65-year-old Buck Showalter.
The latter was considered a candidate for this job with the Halos but it appears he lost out to Washington. The club seemed to cast a wide net, reportedly considering options like Benji Gil, Darin Erstad, Torii Hunter, Tim Salmon, Ron Roenicke, Gary DiSarcina, Ray Montgomery and perhaps others.
Washington will now take over a team that hasn’t had much success and it’s hard to tell what their path forward is at the moment. Despite having superstars Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout on the club for the past six years, the Halos haven’t found any real on-field success in that time. Their last winning season was 2015, last playoff appearance was 2014 and last postseason victory was 2009. Now Ohtani is a free agent while Trout is 32 years old and has dealt with significant injury issues in recent years.
That makes it hard to gauge where they will go over the two years of this deal. Re-signing Ohtani is still on the table but it’s also possible he winds up somewhere else. Some have suggested the club should consider a rebuild in that scenario but it’s unclear if the club’s decision makers would agree with that assessment.
There should be more clarity in the months to come, but the Angels now have a skipper and can move on to figuring out those other unknowns. This hiring leaves three open manager positions around the league, with the Astros, Padres and Brewers still looking for a new bench boss for 2024. Meanwhile, Atlanta will have to find a new third base coach.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.