Report: Menhart says he was ‘never Davey’s guy’ after Nats moved on originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Nationals decided not to re-sign pitching coach Paul Menhart this offseason so that manager Davey Martinez could hire his own man for the job, Menhart told The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga for a story published Tuesday. Martinez’s coaching staff was assembled for him by the organization when he was brought on as a rookie manager in 2018.
Menhart received a call from Martinez on Saturday informing him that the team would be moving in a new direction after his contract expired at the end of the season, according to Svrluga. Martinez told the longtime member of the Nationals’ organization that the decision centered around finding a pitching coach with more experience, but Menhart said that wasn’t entirely true.
“You hear all this stuff about, ‘You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or in a clubhouse,’” Menhart said, as quoted by Svrluga. “That’s not the case here. It’s more that Davey was offered a three-year extension, and he wasn’t given the opportunity three years ago to pick his own staff. So what I got from Mike Rizzo is that he wanted this time around the chance to pick more of his own coaches. And I totally get that. I initially wasn’t told that.
“That’s where it gets a little bit gray for me. I don’t think I was told the truth initially, and I thought I deserved the truth, and it upset me. I didn’t understand why. I don’t think I gave [Martinez] the chance to explain because I was in utter disbelief. I made him repeat it, and it was like, ‘Oh my god, he really did say it.’”
The terms of Martinez’s extension have yet to be released by the Nationals. He was previously signed through 2020 with a team option for next season, so a three-year extension would lock him into D.C. until at least 2024. After winning a World Series and securing a second contract, it would be natural for the Nationals to give him more hiring authority with his staff.
Menhart classified his reaction on the phone as “utter disbelief.” Prior to replacing the fired Derek Lilliquist as pitching coach in May 2019, he spent 14 years in the Nationals’ organization. Menhart spent most of that time in the minor leagues, most recently serving as the minor league pitching coordinator.
Washington is coming off a 2020 season in which it ranked 27th in starters’ ERA (5.38) and 23rd in bullpen ERA (4.68). Though a shortened 60-game doesn’t give as large a sample size for teams to evaluate their roster’s success — or lack thereof — the Nationals are going into 2021 looking to turn in much better results than their attempt at a title defense this year.