Some notes from around the National League:
- Kolten Wong would be open to discussing a long-term extension with the Cardinals, he told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week. The 29-year-old has settled in as a productive everyday second baseman in recent seasons. Since the start of 2017, Wong has compiled a productive .274/.357/.409 slash (105 wRC+). More importantly, he’s emerged as one of the game’s top defenders at the keystone. Wong will make $10.25MM in 2020, the final guaranteed year of the early-career extension he signed. St. Louis also holds a $12.5MM club option ($1MM) on his services that would easily be exercised if he continues to produce at his recent levels.
- The Nationals’ World Series winning 2019 season started dreadfully, as they won just 19 of their first 50 games. Last fall, ownership said they never considered parting ways with manager Dave Martinez amidst the slow start. One more bad week last May, though, and the front office could have contemplated a change, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. One name discussed internally as a potential Martinez replacement: Buck Showalter, who, as Rosenthal notes, worked with Nats GM Mike Rizzo in Arizona from 1998-2000. Of course, that’s little more than an historical footnote now, as Martinez should be on solid footing after leading a remarkable turnaround. He and Rizzo are each entering the final guaranteed year of their contracts (although the Nationals have an option on Martinez for 2021). That said, neither Martinez nor Rizzo expressed worry about their situations as camp opens, and Rosenthal writes that “chances are” both will eventually work out extensions.
- The Phillies plan to start top pitching prospect Spencer Howard slowly in 2020, the organization tells Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The hope is to conserve some innings in the early going so the organization needn’t worry about shutting Howard down if they find themselves in a playoff race. “Every pitch he throws in March is a pitch he’s not going to be able to throw in September,” GM Matt Klentak told Lauber. “It’s not because something is wrong, and it’s not because we don’t like him. It’s because we like him a lot, and we need to set him up for success to pitch deep into the season this year.” The 23-year-old, Baseball America’s #27 overall prospect, threw fewer than 100 minor-league innings in 2019, in part due to a midseason shutdown with shoulder soreness. Nevertheless, it seems he’s likely to make his MLB debut at some point in 2020 now that his arm is fully healthy.