Dusty Baker’s contract is up after the Nationals’ postseason run is over, though his future as manager isn’t contingent on a first-round playoff victory, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes as part of a reader mailbag piece (with fellow Post scribe Jorge Castillo). Nats ownership likes Baker and wants him to keep managing if he’s still willing and able, though an extension hasn’t been worked out since that just isn’t how the Lerner family handles business with managers. Baker told Janes and other reporters today that he was informed that “we’re gonna wait til after the season” to discuss a possible new deal.
Here’s more from around baseball as the Yankees are off to the ALDS…
- It is “increasingly likely” that Justin Upton will choose to opt out of the remaining four years and $88.5MM remaining on his contract, a source tells MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi. Upton’s outstanding 2017 season gives him a strong case to look for a larger deal in free agency this winter, though opting out doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll leave the Angels. Morosi notes that Upton could use the opt-out clause as a way to leverage an extension from the Halos, as C.C. Sabathia did with the Yankees six years ago.
- Power and outfield defense are both needs for the Giants this winter, though as team executives told reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle and MLB.com’s Jonathan Hawthorne) today, the team won’t sacrifice the latter for the sake of the former. “We don’t want to get too far away from our game,” GM Bobby Evans said. “We’re a pitching and defense team. If we compromise too much in the area of power and give up to much defensively, that can hurt us as much as the benefit of adding the power.” A younger and more athletic outfield seems like a priority, and Schulman feels this might rule out a run at 31-year-old free agent Lorenzo Cain. In my view, Cain’s excellent glove would seem to make a good fit for the Giants, though his defensive metrics did decline (from great to “merely” quite good) in 2017.
- The Giants will look to add at all three outfield positions, as incumbent outfielders Denard Span and Hunter Pence could be in line for position changes. Span, according to manager Bruce Bochy, is “all in” about moving from center to left field. This wouldn’t seem to leave much room for Pence to move from right field, though Schulman suggests that Span and Pence could both share a position. That would be a very expensive solution considering that Span and Pence will combine to earn $30.5MM in 2018, though since both also have notable injury histories, a time-share could help keep both players healthy.
- Outgoing Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland looks like a candidate for the Mets’ own pitching coach vacancy, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. Eiland has spent the last six years with the Royals and has some prior experience in the Big Apple, serving as the Yankees’ pitching coach from 2008-10.