Here’s the latest from around the NL East…
- Phillies GM Matt Klentak has already been through rebuilding (while with the Orioles) and spending on big free agents (while with the Angels) in previous front office jobs, and he tells Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he hopes both experiences will help him in the initial and latter stages of the Phils’ rebuild. Perhaps Klentak’s best example of a successful rebuild, however, is how his own team rebuilt in the early 2000’s to form the core of the squad that won five NL East titles and the 2008 World Series.
- Edwin Jackson is battling some younger arms to win a spot in the Marlins rotation, and the veteran righty tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that he has unfinished business as a starting pitcher. “I still look at myself as a starter. There’s still something I want to prove to myself, not to anyone else,” Jackson said. Pitching exclusively as a reliever in 2015, Jackson posted a 3.07 ERA, 1.9 K/BB rate and 6.5 K/9 over 55 2/3 innings, though advanced metrics indicate he was perhaps a bit fortunate to manage such a low ERA. Still, it was a big improvement over Jackson’s rough previous two seasons in the Cubs rotation and now he’s hoping to rebound in Miami.
- In another item from Jackson, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill expects big things from his lineup, saying he’d “put our position player talent against anybody in the National League.” Miami scored the second-fewest runs in baseball last season, yet Hill expects a big improvement thanks to Barry Bonds’ contributions as hitting coach, more development from young players and better health (most notably in the case of Giancarlo Stanton).
- Pitching coach Mike Maddux may prove to be the Nationals’ best offseason acquisition, the Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell writes. Hiring the very well-regarded Maddux represents a new step for the franchise, as Boswell notes the Nationals have rarely invested much money in managers or coaching staffs.
- Tyler Moore took some grounders at third base seemingly just as a routine drill, though as MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman writes, versatility at a new position could help save Moore’s job. Moore is out of options and faces a roster crunch to make the Nationals’ Opening Day roster. Learning the hot corner is easier said than done, of course, especially since Moore has never played anywhere besides first, left or right in his eight-year professional career.
- Stephen Drew knows how being a qualifying offer free agent can impact one’s market, so the new Nationals infielder tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that he sympathizes with what Ian Desmond is going through as the former Nat continues to look for a new team. After rejecting the QO in the 2013-14 offseason, Drew didn’t find a contract until May, re-signing with the Red Sox (notably, the only team that weren’t required to give up a draft pick to sign him). As you might expect, Drew is all for changes to the qualifying offer rule in the upcoming collective bargaining talks. “The union has to do a good job going over that rule and check out what we can come up with. As players, we probably want to get rid of it. We need to really take a look at the way the logistics are,” Drew said.