Wally Backman was a finalist for the Mets’ job last season, didn’t get it and went on to manage Double-A Binghamton. He’s currently expected to be in line for the job at Triple-A Buffalo, but Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that he may leave the Mets organization altogether and take a job as Davey Johnson’s third base coach in Washington.
Such a move would get Backman back to the bigs, of course. And, given that (a) Johnson is not going to manage forever; and (b) third base coach is a pretty standard springboard kind of job, it could put Backman in line to be Johnson’s heir with the Nats.
I was critical of the Mets for considering Backman for the top job last year. But after a couple more years under his belt, some time on a major league coaching staff and with some closer tutelage by a guy like Johnson, it could make way more sense. Besides: if his fiery, hard-nosed reputation is everything it’s purported to be, seeing him beat Bryce Harper into a major leaguer in a year or two could be great fun to watch. Though maybe not much fun for Harper.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.