Wally Backman could join the Nationals’ coaching staff

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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.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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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.