Note: This is part of a series analyzing the questions facing the Texas Rangers as spring training gets set to begin.
Today's question: Should the Rangers extend the manager?
As the Rangers get set to begin spring training, manager Ron Washington's contract hasn't changed. He's signed up through the 2014 season and not beyond.
There was talk shortly after the season that an extension would get done. And, of course, it still could this spring. But what if it doesn't? What does it mean for Washington and the team?
Those are the questions that general manager Jon Daniels and his staff, along with ownership, have to work through in determining whether they go into the season with Washington's contract as is or whether the two sides get an extension done. The fact that no extension has been negotiated yet makes me wonder if they're content to let things stay as they are and see what happens.
That's not unprecedented. There were a handful of managers who didn't have extensions going into last season, and several of them ended up having success and getting new deals. That includes Don Mattingly, who got a new three-year contract this offseason.
Washington is in an interesting place in that he's held to a high standard in part because he helped create that high standard. For many teams, two straight World Series appearances -- especially after the franchise had never even won a playoff series before the 2010 run with Washington as the manager -- just three years ago would be enough to sign a skipper up longer term. But it isn't that simple. The club is much different now than it was then and is coming off two disappointing finishes, though how much you hold the manager responsible for that is certainly up for discussion (he didn't suspend Nelson Cruz for 50 games).
Still, this is all about results now for the Rangers. The only thing this front office is focused on now is winning the AL West, something they haven't done in two consecutive seasons. And everyone, in some form or fashion, is accountable for those results. So we'll see how that impacts the manager.
There's no doubt about how Washington will handle the 2014 season if he doesn't receive a contract extension in the next six weeks. He'll do what he's always done: He'll manage the best he can and trust that if he does a good job, he'll be retained. But not having the new contract will mean that if the club goes through rough times or has a stretch of nine losses in 12 games, for instance, that the questions about the manager will come up more often. It's natural since he doesn't have that job security.
No, I don't think this is something that will hang over this team. They're a tight enough group and they respect and like Washington enough that they'll play hard for him, whether it is the final year of his contract or not. But it is another question that the Rangers' brass must work through as spring training progresses.