NL East Notes: Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Marlins

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wants his club's new manager to chime in on personnel choices over the off-season, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson, but the team has yet to conduct any interviews and will not rush the process. Here are a few more notes from Nats Town and the rest of the NL East …

  • After accounting for arbitration-eligible players, the Nationals will probably enter the off-season with about $114MM already committed to payroll, reasons James Wagner of the Washington Post. That already-tall figure could actually understate things. The aggregate $33.7MM that Wagner allocates for arbitration falls about $6MM shy of the projections of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. In particular, Swartz expects starter Jordan Zimmermann to leap all the way up to $10.5MM in his second year of eligibility, and sees big paydays for both set-up man Tyler Clippard ($6.2MM) and shortstop Ian Desmond ($6.9MM).
  • Desmond, along with Zimmermann, has long been considered an extension candidate. Now entering his second-to-last year of arb-eligibility after grossing 10 fWAR over the last two seasons (a full two wins better than the next-rated shortstop), Desmond's price is likely to continue going up. That makes it a good time to lock him up to a long-term deal, reasons Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
  • While it may be tempting to attribute a major share of the Phillies' lost season to Roy Halladay's struggles, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News notes that every National League playoff club suffered an approximately similar loss of top-flight pitching. The ways to surmount such difficulties, he says, are to develop pitching depth in the upper minors, find value in free agency, and be unafraid to roll the dice on some players. The net for Philadelphia, according to Murphy, is that the club must cross its fingers on its top young pitchers, go after a turnaround candidate in the Francisco Liriano mold, and add multiple starting options in free agency.
  • One major wild card is already seemingly entrenched in the Philly rotation: international free agent signee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. As Philadelphia Inquirer colunist Bob Brookover reports, the 27-year-old is working in the Phils' Florida complex to establish a big league routine and build up strength for his first Spring Training.
  • The major question marks facing the Braves are whether to bring back pitcher Tim Hudson and what to do with struggling, high-priced second baseman Dan Uggla, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Bowman wonders if Atlanta might try to move Uggla, swallowing a big chunk of the $26MM that the 33-year-old is still owed. He also suggests that the team could push for a trade for a top-flight starter like David Price. As things stand, says Bowman, it appears that the Braves have the capacity to add something in the neighborhood of $15-20MM via free agency or trade.
  • The Marlins have announced their 2014 coaching staff, including two new faces in hitting coach Frank Menechino and third base coach Brett Butler, the team announced on Twitter. As the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer notes, both additions carved out nice careers in the bigs. In particular, Butler accumulated somewhere between forty and fifty wins above replacement, depending upon whom you believe, over his 17-year career. The outfielder posted only a .376 lifetime slugging percentage, but his on-base percentage exceeded that mark by one hundredth of a point. He had served as the manager of the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate for the last five years.

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