Nats cut ties with four coaches, keep pitching coach Jim Hickey

The Washington Nationals informed four members of their coaching staff that their contracts will not be renewed, multiple people confirmed to The Washington Post on Monday. Bench coach Tim Bogar, first base coach Eric Young Jr., third base coach Gary DiSarcina and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler won’t return to Manager Dave Martinez’s staff next season.

Two of the Nationals’ most influential coaches, however, will be back next season — pitching coach Jim Hickey and hitting coach Darnell Coles are expected to return in the same role in 2024, multiple people confirmed. The futures of three other coaches remain uncertain: run prevention coordinator Ricky Gutiérrez, catching & strategy coach Henry Blanco and bullpen coach Ricky Bones.

A Nationals spokeswoman declined to comment on the moves, citing a team policy not to publicly discuss personnel. The Athletic was the first to report the moves.

Bogar had the longest tenure with the Nationals, joining the team ahead of the 2018 season as the team’s first base coach. Bogar, Hickey and Martinez were close from their days on Joe Maddon’s staff with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. Bogar was moved to bench coach ahead of the 2020 season.

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Roessler joined the Nationals ahead of the 2020 season, while DiSarcina and Young joined the staff before the 2022 season. Young was primarily responsible for the Nationals’ base running and also coached the Nationals’ outfielders. Shortstop CJ Abrams has often credited Young for helping him steal 47 bases this season, which broke a Nationals record. DiSarcina was responsible for working with the Nationals’ young infielders for the past two seasons, specifically mentoring Abrams and second baseman Luis García.

But perhaps the most significant decision is the retention of Hickey and Coles, allowing both to continue to develop their young talent.

Hickey will continue to lead a young pitching staff that the Nationals hope takes another step in its development next season, specifically young starters Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore and Jake Irvin. Cade Cavalli is expected to join the mix after missing this year following Tommy John surgery in March. Hickey, 61, has been the pitching coach since 2021.

Coles oversaw a Nationals’ lineup that continued to hit for contact, but will certainly need more power to take the next step in 2024. The Nationals were tied for 11th in batting average, but hit the second-fewest home runs in MLB. And the team will need to improve on its plate discipline.

Still, Abrams did take significant strides under Coles once he moved to the leadoff spot. He and catcher Keibert Ruiz each finished with 18 home runs, a positive development for both young hitters.

The Nationals have already made major changes to their staff in the past month across the organization. Washington informed director of player development De Jon Watson that he wouldn’t be returning next season. At least eight other members of their player development staff were told they also wouldn’t return.

Johnny DiPuglia resigned last month after being the Nationals’ international scouting director since 2009. DiPuglia was one of General Manager Mike Rizzo’s closest confidants. Kris Kline was moved into a new special assistant role in scouting. He previously served as the team’s scouting director, a role that will now be filled by Danny Haas. And a dozen members of the scouting department were informed their contracts wouldn’t be renewed.

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