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Let's catch up on the latest stories and happenings taking place in front offices from around the league…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington spoke to Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio about the status of free agent Mike Napoli and where the slugger stands with the team. Cherington told Bowden (via Twitter) that Boston is still looking to add offense to the first base position as the club still considers Napoli to be a free agent. He added that the Red Sox will continue to work through the issues of signing Napoli but admits there is no deal at this point (on Twitter).
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo faces the task of improving a 98-win team this offseason and recently took a break from the action to chat with MLB.com's Bill Ladson on the state of Nationals baseball. Rizzo points to the young, talented players on his roster taking the proverbial "next step" as one of the factors for the team's continued success in 2013.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti's major concern for his roster isn't about adding more pieces but rather making sure players are fully recovered from various injuries before Spring Training starts, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "We're fine right now if we come into camp, we're in a good spot," Colletti said.
The Nationals are scouting Javier Vazquez as GM Mike Rizzo traveled to Puerto Rico this evening to watch the veteran right-hander pitch, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (on Twitter). While Washington already has one of the strongest rotations in all of baseball, adding an insurance arm may make sense given Dan Haren's health issues last season.
Vazquez has been contacted by 15 teams about his services, but does not plan to sign with a club until after the World Baseball Classic in March and will only consider pitching for a contender, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The former All-Star last pitched for the Marlins in 2011 where he posted a 3.69 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 192.2 innings.
The Nationals are sending Ross Detwiler to the mound in a must-win home game against the Cardinals this afternoon. In the meantime here are some Nationals-related links…
- The decision to shut Stephen Strasburg down appears to have irked people around MLB. Baseball executives are rooting for the Nationals to get eliminated from the playoffs, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. One GM said the Nationals “don’t deserve to win it” and another said "I hope they go down in flames. I hope it takes another 79 years before they get back to the playoffs. That's how strongly I feel about it."
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post points out that Washington GM Mike Rizzo has financial incentives to win big now, since a contract extension could be at stake (Twitter link). Though the decision to shut Strasburg down was debatable, it doesn’t seem to have been motivated by self-interest. Rizzo's contract covers 2013 and includes club options for 2014 and 2015, according to Kilgore.
- Edwin Jackson's disappointing Division Series start will likely be the last one he makes with the Nationals, Deron Snyder of the Washington Times writes. “It could be, it could not be,” Jackson said. “That’s definitely not the way I wanted to end it.” The right-hander hits free agency this offseason.
The Tigers have a magic number of one tonight, which means a win over the Royals or a White Sox loss would be enough to send Detroit to the postseason for the second consecutive year. Here are today's links as we await a full slate of games Monday night…
- Agents Jeff Frye and Mike McCann have joined together, MLBTR has learned. Frye McCann Sports represents MLB players such as Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver, Shawn Kelley, Michael Saunders, Adam Moore and Stephen Pryor. Check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for details on all player representatives, including Frye, the eight-year MLB veteran, and McCann.
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post profiles Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, detailing the journey he took from area scout to general manager. Years of scouting enable Rizzo to make determinations about players that inform his moves. “I like to call it knowledge more so than gut,” Rizzo said. I recommend reading the entire piece for an up-close look at the person who leads Washington’s baseball operations department.
- Derek Lowe and Eduardo Nunez helped the Yankees win a crucial game against the Blue Jays yesterday, but it wasn't long ago that Lowe was unemployed and Nunez was a minor leaguer, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.
Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels created a stir last night by admitting he hit Nationals rookie Bryce Harper intentionally. Though Harper didn’t publicly express frustration at being hit, GM Mike Rizzo fired back at Hamels this morning. The details and other NL East-related notes…
- Rizzo called Hamels' act the most "classless, gutless" thing he's seen in his career, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school,” Rizzo said. “He’s fake tough." I’d recommend reading Kilgore’s entire piece for the details.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports points out that Hamels won't be signing with the Nationals next offseason and writes that Rizzo will be lucky if he is not reprimanded for his comments.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com notes that there's "nothing doing" with respect to an extension for Hamels (Twitter link).
- Morosi expects Harper to stay in the Major Leagues for good, since he's played too well to be sent down to the minor leagues (video link).
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Rizzo's comments were an overreaction to legitimate old school play from Hamels (video link).
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com suggests the Nationals may make a trade instead of relying on Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina in left field (Twitter link).
- Jim Callis of Baseball America hasn't given up on Phillies prospect Domonic Brown despite his struggles. Brown could still hit for a high average with 20 homers per season to go along with plus speed and arm strength, Callis writes.
Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that ticket sales are up this year and that he’s hoping “all the hype turns into reality.” Lerner weighed in on an assortment of Nationals-related topics; here are the details:
- Lerner said he doesn’t know or care how valuable the Nationals are. “It’s not something we’re ever going to get rid of,” he said.
- Though Stan Kasten isn’t prohibited from hiring Nationals employees, Lerner doesn’t expect the new Dodgers executive to lure Washington’s front office staff to Los Angeles. “Stan is an honorable man,” Lerner said. “He wouldn’t do that.”
- People close to GM Mike Rizzo say it’s doubtful he’d be willing to work under Kasten again. It’s unlikely that Rizzo would have as much autonomy working under his former boss.
- Rizzo signed a five-year extension following the 2010 season and Lerner said he hasn’t considered discussing another extension just yet. However, he praised his GM’s work and suggested a new deal will occur eventually. “When the time comes, I’m sure we’ll have discussions with Mike.”
- Lerner called the Gio Gonzalez trade a bold move that the Nationals couldn’t have made a year ago.
On this date 11 years ago, the Angels signed amateur free agent Ervin Santana. The right-hander recently reached the 200-inning plateau for the fourth time in his career and he has a 3.27 ERA to go along with his July no-hitter. Here are the latest links from around MLB…
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is "definitely" on the Cubs' wish list for their vacant GM position, reports Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. Rizzo shot down any speculation about him leaving though, saying "there's nowhere I'd rather be than the Washington Nationals right now," and "this is the place I need to be."
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter) that Kurt Kemp has stepped down as Braves' director of player development to pursue other opportunities.
- Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com suggests that the Phillies could have interest in the recently designated for assignment Aaron Rowand after he clears waivers. He would not be eligible for postseason play, but Salisbury notes the team has had a "longstanding interest" in bringing Rowand back after losing him to the Giants in free agency.
- In a piece for Grantland.com, Jonah Keri wonders if losing Albert Pujols to the free agency would really be that bad for the Cardinals.
- Indians minor leaguer Hector Rondon told Carlos Alberto Zambrano of the Venezuelan paper Lider en Deportes that it appears that Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco will undergo Tommy John surgery. Rendon says the currently-disabled Carrasco told him of the upcoming operation.
- Meanwhile, Indians skipper Manny Acta told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that the team is stil exploring options for Carrasco's injured elbow (Twitter link). He acknowledged that Tommy John surgery was a possibility, but it is not a certainty at this point.
- Nate Mink of MLB.com explains that Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg showed he's ready for the Major Leagues in his final minor league rehab start.
- Doug Miller of MLB.com shows how so many former members of Mike Scioscia's coaching staff – Joe Maddon, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke – have gone on to become MLB managers.
- It appears that first base prospect Angel Villalona will return to the Giants organization now that murder charges against him have been dismissed, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The Giants expect to resolve a $5MM breach-of-contract lawsuit that Villalona filed against the team.
- Former GM Jim Bowden introduces us to the agents behind this offseason's big-name free agents in a must-read piece for ESPN. If you're interested in agents, be sure to check out our Agency Database.
Brendan Bianowicz is back with a bunch of updates to the GM Trade History series. The Excel spreadsheets linked below cover each GM's trades, free agent signings, and top draft picks via tabs along the bottom. It's interesting to see each GM's most frequent trade partner – for example, Omar Minaya has matched up with Larry Beinfest and Mark Shapiro most often in his career.
A few links on the second to last day of the regular season…
- Even though they'll finish with the worst record in baseball, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo indicated that it's not a lock the team will draft Bryce Harper first overall next year, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Says Rizzo: "I haven't seen him yet. He certainly hasn't separated himself like [pitcher] Stephen Strasburg did last year."
- CBSSports.com reports that Kevin Towers said he wasn't given a specific reason for his termination, but KT did say that he's "been around long enough to know why."
- Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel says that Florida's final 2009 payroll was just under $35.6MM. Hanley Ramirez ($5.5MM) and Dan Uggla ($5.35MM) were the only Marlins to make more than $3.5MM this year.
- Matthew Carruth at FanGraphs weighs in with his opinion of the Towers and J.P. Ricciardi firings.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo chatted with fans at MLB.com today. Let's take a look.
- When asked about bringing in an impact player this winter, Rizzo replied, "The Lerner family has given us ample resources to improve the club in any way we see fit." So far we've heard about the Nats' plans to upgrade at shortstop, catcher, the rotation, and the bullpen.
- When asked if he'd try to extend Adam Dunn's contract, Rizzo praised Dunn and called him a cornerstone, but did not answer the question directly. Dunn is signed through 2010.
- Stephen Strasburg will have to earn a rotation spot with the big club.