Nationals manager Matt Williams has said repeatedly that Ryan Zimmerman will shift back to third base from left field once Bryce Harper is ready to come off the disabled list, but according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com “Zimmerman sounded like a guy that didn’t want to go back to third base.”
That assessment came after yesterday’s game, when Zimmerman said:
It’s fun out there [in left field]. It has taken some of the burden off of what I was feeling at third base. … I’ll see what happens. I’m pretty comfortable in left and I think Anthony [Rendon] is a hell of a third baseman. I think there is no doubt right now he is better over there than me. But you have to have your best players in the lineup somehow. Whatever Matt needs me to do, that’s what I’ll do.
Zimmerman’s chronic shoulder problems made playing third base a struggle for him and meant any forceful throw across the diamond could lead to needing time off, so it’s easy to see why he’d be hesitant to move back there full time. Still, unless the Nationals were to, say, trade Denard Span to open up an outfield spot the only way to get their best players into the lineup together is for Zimmerman to play mostly third base.
It’s a moot point for a bit longer, but Harper is due back from the disabled list around July 1.
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.