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.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.