We learned on Christmas Eve that the Nationals have a reported three-year, $37.5 million agreement with second baseman Daniel Murphy, but FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the club isn’t done looking for upgrades in their lineup.
At the very least, the Nationals are presumably looking for someone who could share center field duties with young Michael A. Taylor and function as insurance for Jayson Werth, who has dealt with a number of injuries in recent years. Pete Kerzel of MASN Sports reported earlier this month that the Nationals talked to the Rockies about a trade for Charlie Blackmon, but there are still a number of options remaining on the free agent market.
If the focus is on center field, the possibilities include the likes of Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra, and Austin Jackson. You could also potentially include Yoenis Cespedes in this mix, though his price tag could be beyond where the Nationals are willing to go. James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals haven’t ruled out a reunion with Span, but they are hesitant about his health after hip surgery. This could be why they declined to give him a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer after the season.
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.