The Nationals asked the Dbacks about Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson

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MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports that the Nats, despite the fact that they’re sinking like a stone in the NL East, have inquired about the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson. A lot of time in the article is spent wondering if this means the Nats are buyers or sellers (in light of the Adam Dunn rumors) and asking just what the hell are they’re doing. So what are they doing?

Seems to me that being interested in either Jackson or Haren isn’t a matter of buying or selling as we usually discuss it in the “what does it mean for the current season” sense of the term. Just seems like a way to build for the future. Haren is signed through 2012 with a club option for 2013.  Jackson is signed through the end of 2011.  In short, picking up either of these guys would be a play for 2011 and possibly beyond, not a play for some quixotic stab at getting back in the wild card race.

Sure, getting either of these guys would be an expensive way to build, but the Nats efforts to make such a move in the offseason (see, Marquis, Jason) didn’t work out so well, so why not treat this summer as a defacto free agent season, give the Dbacks the salary relief they want and maybe a prospect or two, and acquire a respectable arm to accompany Mr. Strasburg for the next couple of seasons?

If the team is willing to spend some money now — and it seems that they are — making such a move now seems a better bet than getting involved in the great musical chairs game they always seem to lose during the hot stove season.

Athletics hire third base coach Matt Williams

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The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.

Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.

Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.

While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.

“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”