For those of you looking for some rain delay reading during one of the craziest games in World Series history, here are a few notes from the NL East…
- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper isn’t likely to participate in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, but ace Max Scherzer is open to the idea, writes Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. The WBC provides players with an opportunity to represent their country on a global stage but can be a source of scrutiny as well due to the enhanced risk of injury and, in pitchers’ cases, the increased workload they face when voluntarily adding some intense innings to their schedule before the regular season even gets underway.
- Janes also writes that the Nationals are likely to exercise their $12MM club option on lefty Gio Gonzalez. That doesn’t come as a significant surprise, as the free-agent market is devoid of starting pitching talent and, as she notes, Gonzalez would figure to command multi-year offers if he reached the open market. Furthermore, his contract contains a vesting option for the 2018 season, so he has two years of club control remaining, so long as he reaches 180 innings pitched in 2017. That’s no sure thing for Gonzalez, who is prone to abbreviated outings and high pitch counts. Those factors and the Nats’ bevy of young arms could prompt the team to explore the trade market for Gonzalez if they decide they’d like to move on, Janes notes, but I’d have to agree that simply declining his option makes little sense even if the team’s preference is to get younger.
- The Mets would like to have Jerry Blevins back in 2017 and covet a veteran lefty specialist to complement southpaws Josh Smoker and Josh Edgin, per ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, but team officials expect that the 33-year-old Blevins will find a fairly lucrative multi-year deal in free agency this winter. Blevins was effective in 2016, tossing 42 innings of 2.79 ERA ball with 11.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 45.8 percent ground-ball rate while earning a $4MM salary. A multi-year pact does indeed seem possible for the lefty in spite of some curious reverse platoon splits. The .258/.313/.324 line that Blevins yielded to lefties appears to be largely driven by a .368 BABIP from same-handed opponents, and the .637 OPS that he surrendered is hardly a robust mark anyhow.
- The Braves have hired Orioles bullpen coach Dom Chiti as their new senior director of pitching, according to MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko (Twitter links). Atlanta is also adding former O’s pitching coach Dave Wallace, per Kubatko. Wallace will function as a roving instructor throughout the team’s minor league system. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes that Wallace signed a two-year deal with the Braves and adds that the loss is notable for the Orioles organization, pointing out that Zach Britton credits the duo with his development into the dominant closer he has become.