Washington has been searching for a long-term answer in center field since the middle of last season, but after once again coming up empty in their attempts to trade for a veteran general manager Mike Rizzo indicated that he’ll put the search on hold until next offseason.
Rizzo noted during an interview with MLB Network Radio that “the 2013 free agent class at center field is much stronger” and the Nationals can get by with Jayson Werth in center field for now.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post notes that Michael Bourn, Grady Sizemore, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino, Melky Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, and Angel Pagan are among the players who may be available as free agents next winter, at which point the Nationals’ corner outfielders will likely be Werth and top prospect Bryce Harper.
Of course, those plans could change in a hurry if Werth proves incapable of handling center field defensively at age 34 (and with just 97 career starts at the position) or one of the Nationals’ previous trade targets (Denard Span of the Twins, for example) becomes available at a lesser price.
Free agent lefty reliever Aaron Loup has been given a locker in the Padres’ clubhouse, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reported Sunday. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Loup received a one-year MLB deal with a club option for 2020. The Padres will shift right-hander Garrett Richards to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.
Loup, 31, began the 2018 season with the Blue Jays and was traded to the Phillies for minor league right-hander Jacob Waguespack at the midseason deadline. The veteran left-hander pitched just two innings in Philadelphia before hitting the injured list with a forearm strain and returned for a handful of appearances at the end of the year, bringing him up to a 4.54 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 10.0 SO/9, and 0.3 fWAR across 39 2/3 combined innings.
Assuming health issues don’t complicate his next campaign in San Diego, Loup will be added to the bullpen alongside fellow left-handers Matt Strahm and José Castillo (with the possible late addition of southpaw reliever Brad Wieck, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer earlier this year). There are worse places to be — according to FanGraphs, the Padres’ ‘pen jumped from second-worst in 2017 to second-best in the league with a cumulative 3.53 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 8.7 fWAR in 2018.