By moving from the front office to the dugout in the middle of last season Davey Johnson is in a unique situation with the Nationals, as his contract as manager ends after this season while his contract as a team consultant runs through 2013.
General manager Mike Rizzo made it very clear that he wants Johnson back next season, but there was never any doubt about that considering the Nationals’ league-best 93-61 record and seemingly roster-wide respect for the manager.
However, the 69-year-old Johnson has stopped just short of saying he’ll definitely be back as manager, telling Bill Ladson of MLB.com:
I’ve had conversations with Rizzo about that, and he had conversations with ownership. I feel good about my situation. I feel good about where we are at. Those things will be addressed after the season. I think Rizzo and ownership are perfectly comfortable when deciding to have me back after this season is over. Again, I’m comfortable with that, too. Let’s see what happens.
Johnson added that he won’t talk to Rizzo about contract stuff until after the playoffs, by which point he might be thinking about going out on a high note or at least have some pretty great leverage for a big raise. According to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post “neither seem concerned that the talks will result in anything other than a new deal.”
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.