Report: Astros focused on Dusty Baker in search for AJ Hinch's replacement

Matt Weyrich
NBC Sports Washington

The scandal-ridden Houston Astros are focusing on Dusty Baker to help guide their ball club as manager for the 2020 season, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported Tuesday.

Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down one-year suspensions of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow on Jan. 13 for their ineptitude in the team's electronic sign-stealing scheme that coincided with their 2017 championship season. Houston owner Jim Crane met with the media later that day and announced that he was going a step beyond that and firing both of them.

Now, the Astros are reportedly looking to the three-time Manager of the Year Baker to help guide the team through a 2020 campaign that's certain to bring a level of scrutiny the organization has never seen before.

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USA TODAY had reported that the Astros were set to hire Baker, though Ken Rosenthal reports the two sides remain in discussions and no deal has been completed yet. 

A 70-year-old former skipper of the Nationals, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, Baker ranks 15th all-time with 1,863 career wins but has never won a World Series as a manager. He most recently coached in Washington, guiding the Nationals to back-to-back NL East titles in 2016 and 2017 but failing to advance past the NLDS each time. Former Nationals reliever Koda Glover chimed in on Twitter to voice his support for his former skipper.

Baker is regarded as a well-liked manager who can keep a positive clubhouse culture even amid challenging circumstances. He managed the clashing personalities of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent in San Francisco and handled the added media attention the Nationals received while employing the services of Bryce Harper.

Houston's reported interest in Baker adds yet another connection between the co-inhabitants of the FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches, the Astros and Nationals.

The teams also faced off in last year's World Series, with the Nationals overcoming a 3-2 deficit to win the title in seven games. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman spoke with reporters Tuesday about the Astros' scandal, saying, "I think it's completely wrong when you start messing with the integrity of the game in any aspect. It's the greatest sin that you can do."

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Report: Astros focused on Dusty Baker in search for AJ Hinch's replacement originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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