While Matt Williams is all but certain to be let go following the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column, a source close to the situation tells him that Nationals GM/president of baseball ops Mike Rizzo “isn’t going anywhere.” The ill-fated acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon and Rizzo’s backing of Williams has led to some speculation about his job, but Heyman indicates that Washington’s top decision-maker is safe. Heyman focuses on the Nats in a lengthy intro to his column, also notably reporting that the “ship has sailed” on the Cubs‘ interest in Papelbon, making them an unlikely destination in a trade this winter. The Nats will try to unload Papelbon, though finding a trade partner in the wake of recent drama surrounding him will prove exceptionally difficult. Heyman also notes that Tyler Clippard and Gerardo Parra were Rizzo’s top two deadline priorities, but he didn’t have authorization to increase payroll, and thus turned to Papelbon, as the Phillies were willing to include money in the deal.
Some highlights from the rest of the lengthy but informative column…
- In running down current GM vacancies as well as potential managerial openings, Heyman notes a number of likelihoods. Billy Eppler is expected to be offered the Angels‘ GM position, he hears, but the Halos may go with the increasingly popular two-executive format, meaning Josh Byrnes could be hired as president to work above Eppler. Torey Lovullo’s name could surface as a candidate for the Padres, especially given CEO Mike Dee’s ties to Boston. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto could have a tough time with Lloyd McClendon, whom one Mariners person described as even more old-school than Mike Scioscia, and Heyman hears that former Rangers bench coach/Angels front office assistant Tim Bogar could get a look.
- The Indians will be looking for third basemen this winter and could seek upgrades in center field and right field as well.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is said to be a believer in young right-hander Eddie Butler, a former Top 100 prospect that has struggled mightily in the Majors. Others in the organization aren’t as sold on him.
- The Tigers will be looking for a closer and at least one setup man this winter, and they could show interest in the Reds‘ Aroldis Chapman on the trade market (though he strikes me as a questionable fit with just one year until free agency). Detroit will also be seeking rotation upgrades on the free agent market, and a few players of early interest are Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy and Jeff Samardzija. Trades for rotation help are also possible, though Detroit wants to hold onto Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer.
- Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez recently worked out for the Royals and had an impressive showing. The Dodgers and Giants remain interested as well, he adds. It’s worth also pointing out that each of those three clubs has already spent heavily enough on international free agents to incur maximum penalties, so the only further repercussion they’d face is further luxury taxation.
- The Brewers will target rotation help this offseason, and Heyman calls Kennedy a “possibility.” To me, that’d seem like more of the same from recent winters, when Milwaukee added Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse — a pair of mid-range upgrades. Unlike those winters, however, they’re not close enough to contention this time around for me to see the logic in offering Kennedy a four-year deal, especially since he’ll probably end up with a qualifying offer attached to his name. On another Brewers’ note, Heyman writes that the team should listen on Jean Segura, given Orlando Arcia‘s emergence in the minors, though I’m not sure Segura is teeming with trade value following another poor season.
- Samardzija could be a target for the Yankees, who employ former Cubs GM Jim Hendry in their front office. Hendry was Chicago’s general manager when the team initially signed Samardzija and remains a believer in the right-hander.
- The D-Backs, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Rangers, Yankees and maybe the Braves will all show interest if the Padres decide to move Craig Kimbrel this winter.
- Adrian Beltre will need to undergo surgery to repair a severe thumb sprain through which he’s been playing for quite some time following the Rangers‘ season.
- There’s “no chance” that Ian Desmond would accept a one-year qualifying offer, writes Heyman, who presumes that the Nationals will make the offer. Though Desmond’s struggled this year, it shouldn’t be expected that any prime-aged player who isn’t coming off a major injury would accept the offer, in my view. Detractors will state that said player can’t find a similar average annual value on a multi-year deal, and while that may be true, locking in a more sizable payday once free agency is an option tends to be a greater priority. Heyman lists the Mariners, White Sox and Mets as speculative possibilities to enter the shortstop market. Desmond won’t top $100MM, like many once expected, but even with a QO in tow, he’ll be able to handily top $16MM, even at a lower AAV. And, if the offers don’t materialize, he can always sign a one-year deal at or near that rate later in the offseason.