“There may be no ownership group in baseball that is more involved in the selection of its manager” than the Nationals, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes as part of a look at Dave Martinez’s hiring and owner Ted Lerner’s influence. Martinez’s three-year contract is “normal for the industry, outlandish for the Nats,” which indicates that Lerner (who just turned 92 last month) is more committed than ever to finally capture that elusive World Series championship. It could also hint at an aggressive offseason for Washington as it tries to add the final pieces to an already strong team.
Here’s more from around the NL East…
- The Braves have a need at third base, but David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution considers it unlikely that the team will look for a major upgrade at the hot corner this winter thanks to the presence of prospect Austin Riley. The 41st overall pick in the 2015 draft, Riley has shown solid power potential in his young career, including a .900 OPS in 203 Double-A plate appearances last season. With Riley perhaps on pace to crack the big leagues as a September call-up this year and then be in the mix for regular duty at third base in 2019, Atlanta doesn’t want to block his progress by adding a veteran on a long-term contract. MLBTR, for the record, predicted Mike Moustakas as a Braves signing this winter in our list of the top 50 free agents.
- The Braves’ front office situation is still up in the air, though potential GM candidates could include such names as Alex Anthopoulos, Dan O’Dowd and Josh Byrnes, as per O’Brien (Twitter link) and MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. One interesting aspect of Atlanta’s search is that many of the names connected (this trio plus Jim Hendry, Dan Jennings, Ben Cherington, and rumored top choice Dayton Moore) are all former or current Major League general managers. This could indicate that the Braves want an experienced baseball operations leader who would be better equipped to operate despite whatever punishments or restrictions the organization could face once MLB concludes its investigation.
- The Marlins are considering stretching out left-hander Jarlin Garcia in Spring Training to give him a shot at a starting job, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Garcia made his MLB debut last year, posting a 4.73 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 2.47 K/BB rate over 53 1/3 innings out of Miami’s bullpen. His numbers worsened as the season went on, however, which add to durability concerns about Garcia’s potential as a starter; Frisaro notes that the southpaw was converted to a relief role due to past concerns about his ability to stay healthy and effective as a starter. Assuming Garcia doesn’t run into any injury issues, the Marlins have little to lose by at least kicking the tires on his rotation potential, given how the club is sorely in need of starting pitching help.