Nationals starter Dan Haren with your quote of the day, via Adam Kilgore:
Haren shut out the Diamondbacks tonight over seven innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out five. He lowered his ERA to 4.67. As that ERA might indicate, Haren has been part of the Nationals’ problem this year. Before he went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation following his start on June 22, he had a 6.15 ERA.
The Nationals, however, surged at the end of August well into September, winning 23 of 30 games between August 20 and September 20. The hot streak revived their once-dead playoff hopes, but they ran out of time, having already lost too much ground to the Braves. Perhaps, had the Nationals — now 87-75 — pulled things together sooner, Haren might have been right, but it is hard to see the Nationals as presently-constructed being a post-season favorite on the National League side.
The Phillies and White Sox have dominated much of the conversation around free agent Manny Machado this winter, but Andy Martino of SNY says that they may have some stiff competition as the clock winds down to Opening Day. Two mystery teams have been recently linked to the slugger, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman adds that one of them currently has the high bid, though they’re not considered his “preferred landing spot.”
There’s little sense in putting any stock in these kinds of rumors, of course, but it’ll be interesting to see how Machado’s camp responds in the weeks to come. The 26-year-old’s father, Manuel, added some fuel to the fire on Friday after taking an interview with Z101 Digital, saying, “I believe that the team you will probably less think about is the one that’s going to sign Manny Machado.”
Whether that’s in reference to the Yankees, who are apparently still in the conversation, or a true unknown team remains to be seen. Machado has given little, if any indication that he’s leaning toward a particular club, but is generally expected to be more receptive to whichever suitor feels inclined to meet his 10-year, $300 million asking price. At the very least, Manuel’s comments may help light a fire under the Phillies and White Sox as they continue to mull over a potential deal with the four-time All-Star.