The Washington Nationals officially named Matt Williams as the team’s manager on Thursday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract with the five-time All-Star and former Arizona Diamondbacks coach.
“I am thrilled to welcome Matt to our organization and am confident he is the best choice to lead the Nationals at this time,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He is exceptionally prepared for the task. Matt came into the interview process already possessing an extensive knowledge of our organization: our roster, our Minor League system – and our fan base.
“He has genuinely creative, unique ideas on how to increase performance, and on cultivating leadership and team unity.”
Williams, 47, comes to the Nationals after four years on the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff, the last three as their third base coach. Williams becomes the organization’s fifth manager since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005.
“I saw first-hand the leadership qualities he possessed as a player, on the field and in the clubhouse,” said Rizzo, who was a part of the Diamondbacks front office for seven years before joining the Nationals in 2006.
“I think it’s great,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said of the hire. “He’s a younger guy who was a good player and knows the game. I’m looking forward to getting to know him a little bit… I don’t think we were too far away from where we needed to be, and I think we’re all looking forward to next year.”
As a player, Williams was no stranger to the postseason. He played on six playoff teams and appeared in the World Series with the Giants (1989), Indians (1997) and Diamondbacks (2001), winning a World Series ring in Arizona. He is the only player in baseball history to hit at least one World Series home run for three different teams.
In addition to his coaching duties with the Diamondbacks, Williams managed in the Arizona Fall League in 2012, leading the Salt River Rafters – which included several of the Nationals’ top prospects – to the AFL Championship Game.
Williams will replace the retired Davey Johnson.
Bench coach Randy Knorr will remain with the Nationals as their bench coach under Williams. He has had three stints on Washington’s coaching staff, including spending the last two years as bench coach under Johnson.