In search of infield depth with Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list again, the Nationals have acquired switch-hitting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians in exchange for minor leaguer Zach Walters.
Cabrera has been the Indians’ starting shortstop since 2009, but he also has 1,300 innings of experience at second base and will presumably mostly play there for the Nationals, with Anthony Rendon starting at third base (pending Zimmerman’s status).
Cabrera has hit .246 with nine homers and a .692 OPS in 97 games this season as an impending free agent and posted similar offensive numbers in 2013 following back-to-back All-Star appearances in 2011 and 2012.
Walters has had some brief stints with the Nationals, but the 24-year-old infielder has spent most of the past two seasons at Triple-A hitting .262 with 45 homers and an .820 OPS in 223 total games. He has 25-homer power and has played all over the diamond defensively, but it comes with poor plate discipline and lots of strikeouts.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.