MASNSports.com’s Ben Goessling “caught up with Nationals manager Jim Riggleman” for an interview this morning and the lengthy Q&A session included some noteworthy tidbits:
- Matt Capps will enter spring training as the clear favorite for closer duties, but Brian Bruney may also get some ninth-inning chances and Riggleman “might” use Eddie Guardado or Sean Burnett to close things out against “a strong left-handed lineup” because “all I want is to make sure we get the outs.”
- Riggleman hasn’t spoken to Cristian Guzman about a potential move to second base since September, when the longtime shortstop made it clear that he was against a switch. If the Nationals sign a second baseman like Orlando Hudson they’d keep Guzman at shortstop, but barring that he’ll likely move to second base to make room for prospect Ian Desmond.
- Elijah Dukes will “definitely” enter spring training as the starting right fielder, with Riggleman noting that “we need to put him out there every day.”
Riggleman also touched on a few other things, including how spring training with him will be different than spring training with former manager Manny Acta, so the whole interview is definitely worth reading.
If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.
“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.
Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.