"This is a difficult day on a personal level," general manager Jon Daniels said.
The Rangers declined to discuss the personal matter that led Washington to step down. Daniels was willing to say that it was not a repeat of what happened in 2009, when Washington tested positive for cocaine. Daniels said this personal matter did not involve substance abuse but declined to shed any other information.
Daniels said the decision was not related to what was happening with the Rangers on the field. The Rangers, clobbered by multiple injuries, went into Friday's game against the Mariners at 53-87, the worst record in the Major Leagues.
"This has been a difficult season for the team for a variety of reasons," Daniels said. "But it was very clear throughout the organization, both publicly and privately that Ron was going to be back as manager in 2015. You don't have a season like this without a number of things going wrong, beginning with the decisions I made. But this is not what the decision was about."
Daniels said he has known about Washington's personal situation for some time. The coaching staff and players did not. Washington did not finalize his decision to resign until Friday morning. Daniels declined to discuss the specifics of any conversations or if other options were available including a leave of absence as former manager Johnny Oates did in Spring Training of 1995.
"We looked at a variety of different things," Daniels said. "We talked to Ron about different things but ultimately he felt this was what's right for him and we agreed with the decision.
"I hold Wash in high regard as a manager. His record speaks for itself. There is an opportunity in this game to pick anything apart, but, on the whole, Wash did a tremendous job for the organization. At the end of the day, it was about Wash needing to address a personal matter in his life."
Washington met with his team at 3 p.m. CT to inform them of his decision. It was a short, emotional meeting and it caught his players by surprise.
"It crushed me," pitcher Derek Holland said.
"It definitely took us by surprise ... so sad," pitcher Colby Lewis said.
"I'm really going to miss the guy," pitcher Matt Harrison said. "We had some of the best seasons the Rangers ever had. He did a great job."
Washington did not speak to the media on Friday but issued a statement through the club.
"Today, I have submitted my resignation from the job I love -- managing the Rangers -- in order to devote my full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter. As painful as it is, stepping away from the game is what's best for me and my family.
"This is in no way related to the disappointing performance of the team this season. We were already discussing 2015 and looking forward to getting the Rangers back to postseason contention.
"I deeply regret that I've let down the Rangers organization and our great fans. Over the past eight seasons, it's been a privilege to be part of some of the best years in club history and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I've had here, and for the great management, players, and coaches who have made our time here a success. Thank you for respecting my privacy."
Washington was hired as manager after the 2006 season and stepped down with a record of 664-611 for a .521 winning percentage. He managed and won more games than any other manager in club history.
This was his 44th season in professional baseball as a player, coach and manager, and commanded respect all through the game for his unswerving honesty, integrity, enthusiasm and profound knowledge of the game.
"They played with his style," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He loved the game and they played hard with a lot of passion and they were damn good. That's a hard thing to accomplish to get guys to want to play hard for you, but he did it better than anybody."
"We're all surprised by it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Wash is as respected as any guy I've ever seen in the game of baseball. Obviously, from the reports, there's a personal issue he needs to take care of. I hope he gets everything where it needs to be and he'll come back and manage again. He's a great baseball mind, and I know he loves it. So hopefully he can get back at some point."
Washington was signed through the 2015 season and was planning on being back. His work ethic did not waver at all during the season even though the Rangers hopes were crushed by an incredible array of injuries that left almost no player unscathed.
Washington continued to be upbeat and continued to teach. On Thursday afternoon, 24 hours before stepping down as manager, he was out on the field working with outfielders Daniel Robertson and Leonys Martin 90 minutes before batting practice.
"Who doesn't love Ron Washington," Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson said. "We have been with him for four years as owners and we have had the joy of tremendous success so there is some sadness. He brought a collegiate atmosphere that we all enjoyed. We'll miss him."
"You don't replace Ron Washington's presence," co-chairman Ray Davis said. "I'll never get over seeing him trying to help runners coming around third trying to score. We're disappointed Ron chose to do this but there is a time in our life where we all have to set our priorities -- personal over professional -- and that's what Ron did."