Washington Nationals Rumors
The season ended Sunday for 19 of baseball's 30 teams, many of which feature players who will not be back in 2014. Here are some notes on players whose careers might (or might not) be over.
- Rockies great Todd Helton's illustrious career ended in Los Angeles, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports. Dodgers broadcaster recorded a tribute to Helton that played on the scoreboard before the game, and he received a standing ovation for his last plate appearance. "The last at-bat, I got a little emotional, but other than that, it's Sept. 29th and I'm ready to go home," Helton says. Helton finishes his 17-year career with 369 home runs.
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson leaves the game with a 1372-1071 career record, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Johnson will continue on with the Nationals as a senior adviser, although he's not expected to play a strong role in the organization.
- Veteran lefty Darren Oliver ended his two-decade career with a perfect inning for the Blue Jays on Sunday, MLB.com's Evan Peaslee reports. "20 years -- very few guys get to do that," Jays manager John Gibbons says. "Longevity in this business is hard to come by, but to do it for that long and be that effective until the very end that speaks volumes." Oliver, 42, also pitched for the Cardinals, Red Sox, Rockies, Marlins, Astros, Mets and Angels, and he had three separate stints with the Rangers. He finishes his career with a 4.51 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over 1,915 2/3 innings.
- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko still hasn't announced whether he's retiring, but he left Sunday's game against the Royals to applause, reports MLB.com's Scott Merkin. After a tough .245/.314/.356 season, it's unclear whether Konerko will be back, and if so, if that might be in a part-time role. Merkin notes that Konerko think for a month this offseason about whether or not to return in 2014. If he does want to return, the White Sox will have to decide whether to re-sign him.
As regular season finales are being played out across MLB today, rumors have already started to swirl about the fate of several managers. Here's the latest news and notes on that front:
- Joe Girardi met with reporters today (Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger provides a partial transcript) and admitted he has yet to make up his mind about returning to the Yankees next season. "It comes down to family. They are first," said Girardi. "Whatever is best for the group of us, not one individual, not me or just my wife, or just one of my children, whatever is best for us as a group, that’s what we’ll decide to do. And that’s something I put some thought into, and I’m going to have to think about a lot over the next few days, obviously." Girardi added money will not play a factor in his decision.
- Many have speculated Girardi could be the next Cubs manager, if Dale Sveum is fired. Girardi, however, downplayed the connection to his hometown. "I haven’t lived there since 2006. I have a brother still there, a couple brothers there, actually. But my father’s gone. My mother’s gone. So there’s not as much there as there used to be."
- Davey Johnson told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko, he will not manage in 2014. "I wouldn't know the talent level, wouldn't know the organization," Johnson said. "I wouldn't be a good fit. I never say 'Never' to anything. I'm always open for new challenges. But I don't see that as being a challenge that would get my motor really revved up."
- Mike Scioscia told reporters, including Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, he has not been informed whether he will return as Angels manager. "I'm sure that at some point they're going to let us know," said Scioscia. "It's not an issue. It really isn't. It's going to be addressed at some point. I'm sure it's going to be addressed before February."
- Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com expects the Twins to sign Ron Gardenhire to a two-year contract and presumes a decision on his fate will be made either tonight or tomorrow (Twitter links).
- If not retained by the Twins, Gardenhire could be a possibility to replace Eric Wedge in Seattle, tweets FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. In a separate tweet, Rosenthal reports the Mariners will also consider Reds pitching coach Bryan Price and former White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, who played in Seattle from 1995 to 1998.
- The Mets have issued a press release announcing an 11am (CT) news conference tomorrow featuring GM Sandy Alderson. It is expected the topic will be a new deal for manager Terry Collins. People with direct knowledge of the negotiations tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News the contract is for two years and about $2MM, with a club option for 2016.
This is the end of the line for Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, but 2013 will also mark the final season for Blue Jays reliever Darren Oliver. After 20 seasons, more than 1,900 innings and two near-retirements, the 42-year-old is ready to walk away from the game, writes Evan Peaslee of MLB.com. Here's more out of the AL and NL East..
- Slugger Chris Davis says that he's eager to sign a long-term extension with the Orioles, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Davis, who owns a .286/.369/.634 slash line on the season, avoided his first go-round in arbitration last winter by agreeing to a $3.3MM, one-year deal.
- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts says that he understands if the club opts not to bring him back for next season, writes Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. Roberts, who has been with the organization since 1999, has a has a .265/.341/.429 slash line with six homers over his last 41 games.
- OF all the Mets' free agents, LaTroy Hawkins is the most likely to return, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Matt Williams refuses to comment on the possibility of him managing the Nationals, but people around him are more than happy to discuss his credentials, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the next manager of the club will have some input on the roster, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. In addition to Williams, bench coach Randy Knorr and third base coach Trent Jewett are considered strong candidates for the job.
- Wally Backman, who was long rumored to be in line for the Mets' managerial job if Terry Collins was fired, is unlikely to join the coaching staff in 2014, tweets Andy Martino of the Daily News. General Manager Sandy Alderson previously said that Backman would likely be offered a position inside the organization if Collins was brought back.
It's been an incredible season for Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who has belted a Major League leading 52 homers as of Thursday. Davis is hitting .285/.368/.631, and he leads the league in total bases while sharing the MLB RBI lead with Miguel Cabrera as well. Under team control through 2015 via arbitration, Davis told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he's open to staying in Baltimore longer:
"This has been like a second home for me. This has been a place where I've really felt like I've been accepted, been loved and really appreciated. That's rare in this game to find a place where you can call it home. That's between obviously my agent and the front office, but I'd love to stay in Baltimore."
Here's more on the O's and Nats...
- Jonathan Schoop could be the second baseman of the future for the Orioles, but Melewski isn't banking on him being the O's answer to open the 2014 season. Melewski opines that Schoop probably needs a bit more minor league seasoning and speculates that such thinking could push the Orioles to pursue a one-year deal with free-agent-to-be Brian Roberts.
- Dan Haren has never had as much self-doubt as he had early in the season, the right-hander told Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Haren said his first few months with the Nationals were embarrassing, and he struggled mentally and emotionally. Haren candidly admitted that the toll of being in a new city with no family around and few friends worsened those feelings, as he spent a great deal of time alone and thinking about his struggles. Haren has rebounded with a 3.57 ERA over his past 14 starts but knows that he won't have as much say about where he pitches in 2014 as he did when he chose the Nats last year. He did mention his affinity for the West Coast to Kolko.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson tackles a host of Nationals-related topics in his latest Inbox column. Ladson feels left-handed relief and an improved bench will need to be areas of focus this offseason and believes that Adam LaRoche will be with the team on Opening Day in 2014 despite some speculation that he could be traded.
- Echoing Ladson's point, Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider says that "club officials have given zero indication" to moving LaRoche. Zuckerman speaks to the first baseman himself and Nats manager Davey Johnson about LaRoche's tough season.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post looks at the what-ifs of the Nationals season and wonders how things would have been different had they re-signed Tom Gorzelanny and gotten production from Haren from day one, among many other scenarios.
The Orioles' playoff hopes are hanging by a thread after taking a four-game sweep in Tampa Bay but the greater concern to the team is the status of Manny Machado. In the seventh inning of Monday's 5-4 loss, Machado was running to first on an infield hit and suffered an ugly-looking left knee injury that caused him to be stretchered off the field. Machado will undergo an MRI in Baltimore tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. If that wasn't enough bad news for the O's, Alexi Casilla is being examined for concussion symptoms after colliding with Nick Markakis on a fly ball.
Here are some items out of Baltimore and Washington...
- The Orioles should make a point to re-sign Scott Feldman this offseason, CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff opines. Feldman has pitched well since joining the O's and at a price of around two years/$17MM (originally cited by MLBTR's Steve Adams in his Free Agent Profile of Feldman), it's a good value for a team that has a lot of question marks in the rotation heading into 2014.
- Dan Haren doesn't figure he'll return to the Nationals next season and he's considered retirement, but the veteran righty tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he wants to keep pitching in 2014. "Retirement has crossed my mind a few times this year, but with the way the year has gone -- and the ups and downs -- I feel I have something left that could help a team win. I want to give it at least another year and go from there," Haren said. Haren has a 4.87 ERA over 30 games (29 starts) with Washington this season but he has a 3.57 ERA over his last 15 outings since returning from a DL stint. He said he'd prefer to pitch for a west coast team to be closer to his family.
- Randy Knorr, the Nationals' bench coach and top internal candidate to replace Davey Johnson as manager next season, is profiled by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
In an attempt to compensate for the looming loss of Nelson Cruz to his 50-game suspension, the Rangers tried to swing a big trade for Justin Upton at the July trade deadline, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The Braves refused a package of Matt Garza, Joe Nathan and David Murphy. If those are the only three players the Rangers offered, it's not a surprise that the Braves passed -- Garza and Murphy are eligible for free agency after the season, while Upton is a good young player who is under contract through 2015. Eventually, of course, the Rangers acquired Alex Rios in August. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Athletics clinched their second AL West title in a row with an 11-7 win over the Twins on Sunday, and GM Billy Beane says the team's depth has been the key to their smooth season, John Hickey of InsideBayArea.com reports. "We knew going in this was the deepest roster we’d ever had here," says Beane. "We needed that depth, and it paid for itself." As Hickey points out, the Athletics hardly missed a beat all season, even though Brett Anderson, Josh Reddick, John Jaso and Derek Norris all missed significant time. Here are more notes from around the Majors. A quietly brilliant season from Josh Donaldson surely helped, but the A's got solid offensive and defensive performances from most of their hitters, and other than Anderson, their starting rotation mostly stayed healthy.
- After taking in the ceremony for Mariano Rivera and the applause for Andy Pettitte on Sunday, it dawned on injured Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter that he had played his final game with his two retiring teammates, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports. "I’m going to miss them a lot," says Jeter. "These guys have been brothers to me. We’ve been through quite a bit together. Pretty much everything you can experience on a field. In my whole professional career, I’ve been playing with at least one of them." The three had their rookie seasons together with the 1995 Yankees, and Jeter and Pettitte also played on many of the same minor-league teams, including Class A Greensboro in 1992 and and Triple-A Columbus in 1994 and 1995.
- Pitcher Dan Haren thinks the Nationals should aim to keep their team together, writes MLB.com's Andrew Simon. "Last year they had a great year and this year we’ve shown a lot of fight here the last few months. I think as close as things could stay to the guys in this room, I think the better," Haren says. He also appears to support bench coach Randy Knorr for the Nationals' managerial position, which will be open when Davey Johnson retires after the season. Haren himself is a free agent, of course, and he seems aware that he might not be part of the 2014 Nationals, even if they ultimately go with a similar roster: "I know there’ll be some subtle changes, me probably being one of them."
- Now that the Phillies have settled on Ryne Sandberg as their manager, they'll now turn their attention to their coaching staff, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports. With a new manager, it's typical to have at least some change in the rest of the coaching staff. Zolecki mentions that one potential change might be re-hiring former manager Larry Bowa in some capacity.
- A "winter of discontent" is on the way for Phillies fans, writes Bob Ford of the Inquirer. After a recent streak of successful seasons, Ford says, a team elsewhere might "get a standing ovation and then be allowed to attempt its rebuilding with patient if not fervent support. That might be the case here as well, if only the team would get on with the rebuilding." Instead, the Phils will head into the offseason expecting to keep aging veterans Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee. They might also go into 2014 with Carlos Ruiz still at catcher, and perhaps also with Roy Halladay in the rotation. Ford compares the Phillies to a rock band who are still touring long past the point where they've lost relevance, "dyeing their hair and wearing hearing aids."
Let's have a look around MLB's eastern divisions...
- Yunel Escobar has helped stabilize the Rays' defense, manager Joe Maddon says in an article by Sam Strong of MLB.com. Escobar is on track to break the Rays' team record for fielding percentage by a shortstop.
- The Phillies clinched their first losing season since 2002 with Friday's loss to the Mets, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Marc Narducci notes. Though young players have gotten valuable experience this season, the Phils must address a number of question marks in their starting rotation as they reload for 2014, Narducci says.
- The Mets have no plans to release Jordany Valdespin as he finishes up his Biogenesis suspension, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, as cited by MetsBlog. However, there's no guarantee that he'll suit up for the Mets after being reinstated. "It merely means they intend to carry him into the offseason while they have an available 40-man roster spot,” Rubin says.
- The Mets have shut down Zack Wheeler for the season, Rubin reports in a separate article, after he felt stiffness in his pitching shoulder during a start on Tuesday. However, Wheeler says he won't require an MRI or doctor's exam. The righty has a 3.42 ERA in 100 innings across 17 starts this season.
- While the 2013 season will be his last at the helm of the Nationals, Davey Johnson says it may not be his last as a manager. "I'll be managing probably somewhere, if somebody wants me," Johnson said. "I never worry about that. I'm not going to be looking for a job." The baseball lifer discussed his career and what's next for him in a wide-ranging interview with MLB.com.
With the regular season drawing to a close, let's take a look at a few managerial situations around the league:
- Walt Weiss is expected to return for a second year as the Rockies manager, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado owner Dick Monfort says the club has been pleased with Weiss's growth in the role, and Weiss says he has every intention of staying on. Though Renck clarifies via Twitter that pen has not yet gone to paper, he says that a new deal is largely a formality. The Rockies, in turn, have stated through their team Twitter account that, while there is mutual interest in a return, "nothing is official as of now."
- The fate of Royals manager Ned Yost is entirely in the hands of general manager Dayton Moore, owner David Glass told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Glass added that he feels both Moore and Yost have performed their jobs well. Moore told Dutton that he won't discuss the contracts of Yost and the coaching staff until after the season.
- Though he declined a contract extension opportunity just last winter, White Sox manager Robin Ventura says he wants to keep his post for the foreseeable future, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Ventura's current deal runs through the end of next season.
- The early returns are positive on Ryne Sandberg's run as interim manager of the Phillies, but he says he has yet to hear from the front office on his future, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Zolecki opines that it is a "near certainty" that the Phils will look to keep Sandberg on for next year, as he has led the team to an 18-14 mark since taking over for the fired Charlie Manuel.
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson says he would have offered to step aside if the team had not made a run to return to the fringes of the Wild Card race, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Though GM Mike Rizzo has made clear he had no intentions of dismissing the veteran from his post, Johnson explained that he would have wanted to afford bench coach Randy Knorr or third base coach Trent Jewett a chance to take an audition at the helm. Kilgore notes that Knorr seems to be the most likely internal option to take over next year.
Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre just passed Joe DiMaggio for the 175th slot on MLB's all-time hit list with his 2,215th base knock, a milestone brought to my attention at least by the Sun Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez. Though DiMaggio missed three prime years due to military service, it remains an impressive accomplishment for the speedy Pierre, who will become a free agent at the end of the year. Elsewhere in the National League East ...
- Fellow Marlins veteran Placido Polanco wouldn't commit one way or another when asked by Rodriguez if he would return for a 17th Major League season next year. The thrd baseman, who resides in Miami, did seem to hint that this could be his final season with his answer: "It depends," Polanco said. "It has to be close to home. I have to see what's out there, but the kids, the wife and family is probably ready for me to be home now."
- Only two players -- Tim Hudson and Brian McCann -- on the current Braves roster were with the club when it last won a division title, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required). Neither veteran is guaranteed to be back with Atlanta in 2014, however, as each is set to hit free agency. McCann declined to talk about his future, instead commenting that he's focused on making a deep playoff run and adding some banners to Turner Field.
- The Nationals have opted to sign free agents like Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren to one-year deals to fill out their rotation in each of the past two offseasons, but James Wagner of the Washington Post writes that the development of Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark might not make that a necessity. The development of that pair, plus the continued maturation of arms like A.J. Cole and Sammy Solis, gives the Nats the option to stick with internal options, sign a free agent or make a trade. GM Mike Rizzo wouldn't rule out any of the three.
The Nationals acquired DeJesus from the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later but quickly flipped him to the Rays just a few days later. GM Mike Rizzo later explained that he saw claiming DeJesus as an opportunity to flip him for a prospect that the team could control for years: "It’s acquiring assets. That’s really the reason you utilize your positioning on the waiver wire," said Rizzo shortly after trading DeJesus.
It's unclear what the Nats ultimately gave up to acquire DeJesus in the first place, but the trade will net them Spann, the Rays' 25th-round selection from the 2010 draft. The 22-year-old southpaw spent the season with Class-A Bowling Green, pitching to a 2.87 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 59 2/3 innings -- most of which came in relief. Spann was fairly hittable, as opponents batted .284/.349/.453 against him.
DeJesus has been solid for the Rays, geting on base at a solid clip, but his overall .258/.343/.339 slash line is a bit underwhelming. Curiously, the Nationals now have Matthew Spann and Denard Span to go along with Jordan Zimmermann and Ryan Zimmerman.