UPDATE: Guzman took the decision in stride and told Ladson that he is “willing to do anything the Nats ask of him.” He will not demand a trade.
SATURDAY, 10:41pm: MLB.com’s Bill Ladson passes along some refreshing news out of Nationals camp. According to team sources, 24-year-old prospect Ian Desmond has captured the club’s Opening Day shortstop gig from Cristian Guzman.
Desmond, a third-round pick in 2007, has moved swiftly through the Nats’ farm system. He posted a .330/.401/.477 batting line last season with seven homers, 32 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 394 plate appearances between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.
We’re sure to see some rough patches from Desmond, who hasn’t appeared in more than 25 major league games, but manager Jim Riggleman has been praising the youngster all spring and obviously has faith that he will adjust to full-time big league life with little effort. Guzman will probably be relegated to a utility infield role, or perhaps Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo will attempt a trade. The 32-year-old hit an ugly .284/.306/.390 last season with six home runs and 52 RBI in 531 at-bats. He’s been dealing with a balky shoulder for most of spring training.
Free agent right-hander Trevor Cahill reportedly has a one-year deal in place with the Athletics, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee. The exact terms have yet to be disclosed, and as the agreement is still pending a physical, it has not been formally announced by the club.
Cahill, 30, is coming off of a decent, albeit underwhelming year with the Padres and Royals. He kicked off the 2017 season with a 4-3 record in 11 starts for the Padres, then split his time between the rotation and bullpen after a midseason trade to the Royals. By the end of the year, the righty led the league with 16 wild pitches and had racked up a 4.93 ERA, 4.8 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 in 84 innings for the two teams.
The A’s found themselves in desperate need of rotation depth this week after Jharel Cotton announced he’d miss the 2018 season to undergo Tommy John surgery. Right now, the team is considering some combination of Andrew Triggs, Daniel Gossett, Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn for the back end of the rotation — a mix that seems unlikely to change in the last two weeks before Opening Day, as Lee points out that Cahill won’t be ready to shoulder a full workload by then. Instead, he’s expected to begin the year in the bullpen and work his way up to a starting role, where the A’s hope he’ll replicate the All-Star numbers he produced with them back in 2010.