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Matt Williams front-runner for Nationals' managerial post

It's looking increasingly likely that D-backs' third-base coach Matt Williams will be named the next manager of the Washington Nationals, adding to our list of vacancies to be filled.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Interviews for the position are still ongoing, but there appears to be a growing consensus that Williams is at the front of the pack with regard to helming the Nationals.Perhaps the most decisive comment came from Buster Olney on Twitter:

Bill Ladson on wrote similarly, saying "A baseball source who is familiar with Rizzo's thinking believes Williams is on top of the Nats' managerial list." The process still appears to be ongoing, with other candidates including current bench coach Randy Knorr, who has filled in previously, their third-base coach Trent Jewett, and external candidates Brad Ausmus and Rays' bench coach Trent Jewett. Earlier names like Cal Ripken and Dusty Baker appear to have faded from the discussion. The position is open due to the retirement of Davey Johnson, who had taken over the position in Washington late in the 2011 season

Johnson guided them to an 86-76 record this year, failing to make the post-season. Whether the Nationals go external or internal may depend on whether the front-office is happy with the overall direction of the team. They won the division in 2012, but lost in the first-round of playoffs, extending Washington's winless streak there (they haven't taken a post-season series since 1981). Hot favories fro the NL East again this season, they fell out of the running in mid-July after a 2-11 spell around the All-Star break. They did make a weak run at a wild-card spot late in the year, but fell short and the season overall has to be classed as a disappointment.

Though Williams' has been on our staff since 2010, his managerial experience is pretty limited. He took over as a temporary manager for the Mobile BayBears in 2007, after health issues for Brett Butler, and also managed the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League last season. At that time, he said, "I want to manage. That's why I'm here,"and was linked to positions at both the Blue Jays and Rockies over the winter that followed, though failed to be given either positions. Going to Washington would also re-unite him with Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, who was scouting director for the D-backs when Williams was playing third-base.

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