- While the Nationals front office has long been helmed by Mike Rizzo, his future with the organization is not assured at present. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes that Rizzo and ownership have yet to discuss a new deal. And the veteran executive says he isn’t going to be the one to kick off talks, saying he’ll “allow [ownership] to talk to me if they choose to” and noting that he’s comfortable entering the offseason without a long-term contract. Janes tackles some of the many facets to the situation in the post, which is worth a full read.
As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…
- Heading onto the Blue Jays’ roster, per a club announcement, are righty Connor Greene, lefty Tom Pannone, first baseman Rowdy Tellez, and catchers Dan Jansen and Reese McGuire.
- The Rays have selected the contracts of righties Brent Honeywell, Diego Castillo, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose Mujica, lefty Ryan Yarbrough, first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers, and outfielder Justin Williams, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- The Diamondbacks placed lefty Jared Miller on the MLB roster, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports on Twitter.
- A list of six players is heading onto the Reds’ 40-man, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter): infielders Alex Blandino and Shed Long, outfielder Jose Siri, and righties Jose Lopez, Jesus Reyes, and Zack Weiss.
- The Padres and Brewers have joined the teams announcing their additions. For San Diego, lefties Jose Castillo and Brad Wieck are heading to the 40-man. Milwaukee has selected shortstop Mauricio Dubon, catcher Jacob Nottingham, and righties Marcos Diplan and Freddy Peralta.
- The Marlins and Yankees just struck a trade relating to their 40-man maneuvering, and each announced their selections shortly thereafter. Miami is placing outfielder Braxton Lee on the MLB roster along with righties Merandy Gonzalez, Pablo Lopez, and James Needy. New York, meanwhile, will select righties Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, and Jonathan Loaisiga to the 40-man along with outfielder Billy McKinney and infielders Thairo Estrada and (last but not least) Gleyber Torres.
Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …
- After almost two years of trying, the Nationals aren’t close to selling the naming rights to Nationals Park, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. If the Nats can eventually find a deal, it would create a short-term revenue bump for a club that has extensive short-term financial commitments and doesn’t seem any closer to resolving their ongoing TV rights dispute with the Orioles. (Janes also provides an update on the latest development between the Nats and O’s in that court case.)
Katie Strang of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) had a phone Q&A with Brad Ausmus. The former Tigers skipper explains his rationale in taking a year off from the field. Among his reasons for a hiatus is the ability to be more involved in his daughters’ lives. Ausmus also mentioned that the Red Sox managerial opening he interviewed for would have been a perfect fit due to a house up in Cape Cod and an emotional connection to the franchise, so he would have accepted the job in Boston. He was unwilling to comment on his interviews with other franchises, including the Mets. When asked about his time with the Tigers, Ausmus mentioned that he has no hard feelings about the way his tenure in Detroit ended, adding an anecdote about his disappointment that the Tigers didn’t win it all. “The only thing that bothered me the most is that we didn’t win,” Ausmus tells Strang. “We didn’t win a championship. That’s the only thing that stung.” The piece gives great insight into Ausmus’ experience and emotions.
Other notes about coaches around baseball…
- The Nationals’ hire of Henry Blanco as their new bullpen coach finalized their coaching staff for 2018. Blanco will leave his position as the quality assurance coach with the Cubs to join the Nats organization. Being that Washington’s new skipper Dave Martinez will also be coming over from the Cubs, the prior relationship between the two is a definite plus, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier notes in the above link.
- The Phillies have announced that Jim Gott will fill their bullpen coach opening. As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com notes, the 58-year-old Gott served as the pitching coach for the Angels from 2010-2012, and has spent the past five seasons as the Angels’ minor league pitching coordinator. Gott pitched in the major leagues from 1982-1995 and had a lifetime 3.87 ERA, notching 837 strikeouts against 466 walks.
NOV. 18: Martinez will make $2.8MM over the next three years. His 2021 option is valued at $1.2MM, giving his contract a maximum of $4MM over four years, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports via Twitter.
OCT. 30: The Nationals have formally announced the signing of Martinez to a three-year deal with a team option for the 2021 season.
“We are delighted to bring Dave aboard and excited about what he will bring to our clubhouse and our dugout,” said owner Ted Lerner in a statement announcing the hire. “We have been very clear about our goals as an organization and we feel confident we’ve found the right man to help us reach them.”
GM Mike Rizzo also offered a statement on his new skipper: “I am excited to bring Dave into our family. As we went through this process it became clear the type of manager we were looking for — someone who is progressive, someone who can connect with and communicate well with our players, and someone who embraces the analytical side of the game. We came away from the process feeling like there was absolutely no one better suited — who matched up to what this organization needs right now — than Dave.”
OCT. 29, 10:16am: A contract is now in place, Janes tweets. It’s a three-year deal with an option for 2021.
10:14am: Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post confirms that Martinez is the choice, though she reports that he and the team haven’t finished negotiating a deal yet (Twitter link). Notably, the Nationals hired Baker after negotiations with Bud Black fell through. Black looked like a lock to land the job at one point, which is obviously the case with Martinez now.
9:14am: The Nationals will hire Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez as their manager, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports. The Nats will make an official announcement after the World Series, Heyman adds.
After the firing of Dusty Baker on Oct. 20, the 53-year-old Martinez quickly emerged as the overwhelming favorite to take over in Washington, which chose him over fellow interviewee John Farrell. The Nationals also showed interest in Alex Cora, whom Boston selected as its manager, and Mets hitting coach Kevin Long. Washington received permission to interview Long, but it’s unclear whether the two actually met.
Martinez was a major league outfielder from 1986-2001 who also brings plenty of experience in the dugout. He served as manager Joe Maddon’s right-hand man in Tampa Bay (2008-14) and Chicago (2015-17), and drew managerial interest from multiple teams in recent offseasons. In fact, the Nationals nearly hired Martinez in 2013 prior to tabbing Matt Williams, who lasted two years before giving way to Baker.
Baker’s own two-year era was a resounding success during the regular season, as Washington piled up 192 wins and back-to-back National League East titles, but the club’s playoff struggles led to his ouster. The Baker-led Nationals were unable to get past Martinez’s Cubs in the National League Division Series this year, leading general manager Mike Rizzo to declare that “winning a lot of regular season games and winning divisions is not enough.”
Given the talent on hand, the Martinez-guided Nationals figure to once again end up as one of the majors’ premier teams in 2018. The Nationals’ collection of quality players surely made their managerial vacancy appealing to Martinez and others, but the job does come with drawbacks. The position doesn’t seem to feature much stability, for one, nor is Washington regarded as a franchise willing to spend much on a manager. Further, the Nationals could lose two of their best players – right fielder Bryce Harper and second baseman Daniel Murphy – to free agency in a year.
With Harper and Murphy in the fold for at least another season, the Nats will turn to a neophyte manager to win over a clubhouse that’s reportedly “upset” with Baker’s exit. Martinez has long been a well-regarded assistant, though, and both his openness to analytics and Spanish-speaking ability should serve him well in his new role.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Orioles seem to be casting a wide net in their hunt for starting pitching, as they have been cited as having interest in quite a few arms already. While the organization has become known for doing a good portion of its business later in the offseason, perhaps it’ll be more aggressive on some pitchers this time around. In any event, the latest name connected to the O’s is righty Alex Cobb, with Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeting that the team has interest in a hurler who long tormented them in the division. Cobb won’t come cheap, but could be an option if Baltimore decides it’s able to add a more significant contract. The primary goal, though, will be to ensure there’s enough depth on hand in the rotation.
More from the eastern divisions:
- The Mets are the current poster child for the concept that you can never have enough pitching depth. Even on the heels of a tough season in which the club’s vaunted rotation collapsed, though, GM Sandy Alderson says he’ll consider dealing arms, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. While there’s still a need to “be careful” not to thin the staff out too far, Alderson is obviously also looking for ways to improve with a limited amount of payroll flexibility. Odds are that the team’s most prominent pitchers won’t be dangled, but Puma suggests Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, or Rafael Montero might conceivably be discussed.
- While there’s nothing the Nationals can do to get out from under their 2018 commitment to Matt Wieters, the team will look for ways to improve behind the plate. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes that the plan is to reduce the veteran’s role. Of course, that would mean relying more heavily on another player, and the team’s top internal alternatives (Pedro Severino and Raudy Read) are hardly sure things. An external acquisition will surely at least be considered; I ran through some other possibilities after the Nats were bounced from the postseason.
- The Blue Jays are aiming for depth in their pitching staff, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. Lefty Robbie Ross is among the arms they are interested in, he reports. Certainly, Toronto has had a chance to see Ross up close over the past several years, which he has spent with the Red Sox. He was limited by injury in 2017 but turned in 55 1/3 innings of 3.25 ERA pitching in the prior campaign. Toronto isn’t limiting itself to lefty relievers, though; Nicholson-Smith says the club is looking at basically every type of hurler out there.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the latest on the Rays’ efforts to land a new ballpark. Owner Stuart Sternberg expressed optimism about a prospective site in Hillsborough County, but there are plenty of challenges still to be dealt with. Among them: the club “might only cover $150 million of the projected $800 million cost,” Topkin writes. Those interested in learning more about where things stand will want to give the link a full read.
MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here for the other entries in this series.
The Nationals organization isn’t hiding the disappointment after another NLDS washout. Neither is it making any secret of its expectation of a World Series run in 2018. But what’ll it take to get there?
- Max Scherzer, SP: $165MM through 2021 (2019-21 salaries deferred, without interest, through 2028)
- Stephen Strasburg, SP: $150MM through 2023 ($70MM deferred, without interest, through 2030)
- Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: $36MM through 2019 (includes $2MM buyout of 2020 club option)
- Bryce Harper, OF: $21.625MM through 2018
- Adam Eaton, OF: $15.9MM through 2019 (includes $1.5MM buyout of 2020 club option; contract also has 2021 club option)
- Gio Gonzalez, SP: $12MM through 2018
- Daniel Murphy, 2B: $17.5MM through 2018 ($5.5MM deferred, without interest, through 2020)
- Matt Wieters, C: $10.5MM through 2018 ($5MM deferred, without interest, through 2021)
- Ryan Madson, RP: $7.5MM through 2018
- Shawn Kelley, RP: $5.5MM through 2018
- Sean Doolittle, RP: $4.85MM through 2018 (includes $500K buyout of 2019 club option; contract also has 2020 club option)
Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
- Jayson Werth, Adam Lind, Matt Albers, Brandon Kintzler, Oliver Perez, Howie Kendrick, Stephen Drew, Edwin Jackson, Joe Blanton
On paper, this is a fairly simple offseason for president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo and his staff. The Nats will return all of the core of a team that coasted to a second-consecutive NL East crown. Unfortunately, though, the postseason heartbreak now hangs over the organization more than ever before. Perhaps as much as anything else, a sense that something had to change is what led to the decision to part ways with manager Dusty Baker.
The overarching question for the winter, then, is whether the organization will find it necessary to seek significant improvement to the roster that will be turned over to new skipper Dave Martinez. The Nationals may not have many glaring needs on paper, but that doesn’t mean there won’t opportunities for major acquisitions.
If there is a key area to improve, though, it’s probably behind the plate. The Nationals whiffed on their signing of Matt Wieters, who not only failed to bounce back offensively but sank to a personal-worst .225/.288/.344 batting line in 2017. The hope has been that Pedro Severino would force his way into the major-league picture, but he managed only a .242/.291/.332 slash of his own at Triple-A. Raudy Read provides another option but hardly seems to be a sure thing at this stage.
While Wieters is said to be viewed as an asset to the pitching staff, and there’s still cause for hope from the youngsters, it’s the one spot that’s crying out for improvement on this roster. As I explored earlier in the offseason, there are some possible options out there, with J.T. Realmuto of the Marlins representing an ideal (but likely hard-to-obtain) target and a few open-market veterans also worth considering. Even if the team has to commit multiple years to draw a free agent, such a player could be a part of the future solution when Wieters departs. While Wieters is going to be an important member of the team for 2018, it seems critical that the Nats reduce his role and find production from a second catcher.
There’s far less urgency elsewhere in the lineup. The Nats are locked in around the horn, with Ryan Zimmerman (first), Daniel Murphy (second), Anthony Rendon (third), and Trea Turner (shortstop) making up an enviable unit. And in the outfield, the club can flank breakout performer Michael Taylor with Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. There are bench options on hand as well, with the left-handed-hitting Brian Goodwin representing a potentially solid platoon option to pair with Taylor and Wilmer Difo providing infield versatility. With top prospect Victor Robles impressing enough in his brief debut that he made the postseason roster, and Juan Soto also climbing the ladder, the Nats also have future outfield pieces on hand — with Robles giving the team a high-upside, potential early or mid-season call-up. Adding two veteran bench pieces — perhaps a lefty slugger type to replace Adam Lind and a righty swinger capable of playing the corner outfield (perhaps even Jayson Werth) — would round things out without much fuss.
Of course, when you’re aiming to win it all, you have to look for every opportunity to get better. In this case, it’s arguable that the Nats could stand to do more in the outfield. Taylor and Goodwin have each been top prospects in the past. But the pair overperformed expectations when thrown into surprisingly significant roles due to injury. In Taylor’s case, he rode a .363 BABIP to a .271/.320/.486 batting line; with his excellent speed and glovework mixed in, he topped 3 fWAR. He also struck out over 30% of the time; while his speed makes a higher BABIP more believable, there’s likely some regression coming. Goodwin, meanwhile, launched 13 homers and posted a .247 isolated slugging mark over 278 plate appearances — the kind of power output he has never sustained in the minors. While there has long been a hope he’d eventually tap into his nascent upside, he too is far from a sure thing.
There’s an argument, then, for the Nationals to go after a significant new bat in the outfield — especially if the organization comes to believe it likely won’t have a shot at retaining Harper past 2018. Really, it’s possible to imagine any number of possibilities, particularly since the club felt comfortable utilizing Eaton in center field to open the 2017 season (though he has long been viewed as a much better option in the corner). Were such a move to be made, the Nats could go on to flip Taylor and/or Goodwin — each of whom comes with affordable control — to bolster the pitching staff, or simply hold onto them for depth and flexibility. Alternatively, or additionally, the Nationals could spend more money than they need to on a bench piece. The club once made a luxury signing of Nate McLouth (not that it worked out well) and might do something similar — say, with Howie Kendrick, who was a quality contributor in D.C. down the stretch.
Of course, it’s also possible that a bigger move could be swung in the pitching staff. Given the presence of Robles and the possibility (however slight) of trying to get a deal done with Harper, this is likely the safer bet. The Nats stunned many when they added Max Scherzer to a rotation that was fronted by Stephen Strasburg, but that move has worked out better than anyone could have hoped. With those two joined by Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, four of the five slots are taken, but the other is entirely unclaimed. Joe Ross underwent Tommy John surgery in July. A.J. Cole, Erick Fedde, and Austin Voth provide alternatives, but it’s unlikely that any of that trio will be entrusted with a rotation spot after tepid 2017 campaigns.
On the relief side, the Nationals are no doubt glad that the late-inning mix isn’t in doubt with Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson returning. But Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley are question marks, lefties Sammy Solis and Enny Romero were far from dominant, and the team is losing the steady contributions of Matt Albers and (upon his mid-season arrival) Brandon Kintzler. While younger pitchers (including some mentioned above) provide options, none have earned anything approaching a presumption of a roster spot.
There’s not a huge amount of urgency on the mound, particularly given the general state of disrepair that envelops much of the rest of the NL East. Perhaps the wiser course will prove to be one of largely waiting and observing, with an eye on dedicating resources to fill the most pressing needs once they are known at next year’s trade deadline. Early signals are that’s where the organization is leaning, though it wouldn’t likely tip its hand anyway.
There surely are plenty of potential pieces that could fill the holes without making any major commitments. The Nats previously have signed short-term veterans to shore up the rotation (Edwin Jackson, Dan Haren) and bullpen (Brad Lidge, Joe Blanton), and might look to do something similar. There’s no true analogue to E-Jax and Haren on this year’s market, though Jaime Garcia shares many of the attributes they carried when they signed. Pitchers such as old friend Doug Fister and grizzled competitor John Lackey could make sense if the team looks to fill out the rotation with a seasoned hand; CC Sabathia is also out there, though he’ll likely cost more. There are many cheaper, less-certain options in free agency. The Nats also might pounce if a team like the Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin), Astros (Colin McHugh, Mike Fiers), or Rays (Jake Odorizzi) decide to shuffle the deck a bit. In the pen, the Nats seem likelier to focus on the right side. Re-signing Kintzler certainly makes sense on paper. Albers could be brought back, too. And there are a wide variety of hurlers in the broad range between those two pitchers that will likely sign for fairly manageable guarantees.
But those are mostly gap-filling measures, and we have to at least consider the possibility of something more. There will be opportunities to get even better from the jump, many of which simply won’t be there over the summer. It would be a bit of a stunner were the Nats to add a third top-rate pitching salary to their books, but pursuits of Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, or other top hurlers can’t be entirely ruled out — that is, so long as the Nats are willing to blow past the luxury tax line. Even in the ’pen, it’s not inconceivable that the Nationals could put in a bid on Wade Davis in hopes of fielding a dominant late-inning trio.
Rizzo has also swung quite a few high-value trades over the years. The Nats do have some outfield talent to play around with if they go hunting for a controllable starter or reliever. Sean Manaea of the Athletics is an appealing target — the Nationals and Athletics are frequent trade partners and this could be something of a reprisal of the Gio swap — though it is far from clear whether there’s a match there; Kendall Graveman might be a more realistic (but less enticing) fit. Rizzo has also done business with the Pirates, who could have some arms to spare and would draw a crowd if they market Gerrit Cole. The Nats would certainly have to weigh a run at Chris Archer if he’s made available, though he’d have a swarm of auction participants and may well not be put on the block at all.
Tampa Bay is likely more willing to part with closer Alex Colome, a power pitcher whose price tag won’t be as lofty as it was last winter after a less-than-great 2017 season. Similarly, Kelvin Herrera of the Royals might be had after his own down year; as a pending free agent, he won’t cost as much in future value. Brad Hand of the Padres ought to be available, but competition will be steep. Raisel Iglesias of the Reds is probably the most appealing reliever that could be available, though he’ll need to be pried out of Cincinnati. Iglesias, notably, is the type of pitcher that could function as the multi-inning relief piece that the Nationals don’t have. Danny Salazar could be another, and he’s a fascinating trade chip for the Indians — though that contending organization may well prefer to keep trying to unlock his upside itself.
Ultimately, those are just a lot of names that could conceivably pique the Nats’ interest. None seem particularly likely to end up moving to D.C. (or, in many cases, moving at all). But the variety of options out there shows that there are quite a few avenues for Rizzo to pursue; it would hardly be shocking for the Nationals to line up on one of these hurlers (if not some other, yet more surprising pitcher).
Another key topic for the winter centers on existing Nationals players. There’ll be at least some effort to explore a new contract with Harper. It’s conceivable the team could chat about things with Murphy, who’ll also be a free agent, though that seems less likely. The under-hyped Rendon is also clearly a candidate for a multi-year pact, though, which might offer a nice opportunity to realize some real value. There’s no urgency, but perhaps it’s not too soon to think about approaching Trea Turner with a deal that could lock in some earnings and deliver tons of upside to the team.
There’s also one other key extension candidate to account for: Rizzo himself. The team previously picked up his option for the 2018 season, but he’s not under contract beyond. Whether and when that’ll be sorted out remains to be seen — indications are that ownership would like to continue the relationship — but it seems the club would do well to ensure it retains an executive that has delivered an extended run of success while leaving the club well-situated for the future. Of course, there’s still that pesky matter of the postseason failings. It’s tough to pin dropping tightly-contested postseason series on an executive who has compiled talent capable of winning so many games. But the same general reasoning arguably held true of Baker to an extent. Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether the Lerner family extend its commitment to Rizzo before it sees how things play out in a 2018 season that could shape the future of the organization.
- With both Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle under team control next season, the Nationals are less inclined to pursue top-tier free agent relievers, Janes writes in a second piece. Rizzo expressed confidence in that duo and offered a generally encouraging review of his relief corps overall, health permitting. Injury concerns are present, though, as Janes notes; both Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley were heavily limited by arm troubles in 2017. As such Rizzo indicated that it’s possible his team will pursue some right-handed bullpen help this offseason. Janes runs down several options that Nats fans will want to check out, and she also notes that Matt Albers may ultimately end up elsewhere as he cashes in on a career year.
The Nationals have yet to hold any extension discussions with stars Bryce Harper or Anthony Rendon, agent Scott Boras told reporters at the GM Meetings on Wednesday (via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post). Asked whether there’d be any talk about a deal for Harper before he reaches free agency next winter, Boras suggested that the matter is presently up to the Nationals. GM Mike Rizzo told the New York Post’s Joel Sherman yesterday that he’d be “surprised” if there were no extension talks with Harper this winter, though as Janes points out, those types of negotiations typically occur later in the offseason.
Indians ace Corey Kluber and Nationals ace Max Scherzer have been named the Cy Young Award winners in their respective leagues, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced tonight. Scherzer has now won back-to-back Cy Young Awards and three total in his career after receiving 27 of the 30 first-place votes. (Clayton Kershaw received the other three first-place votes.) It’s the second AL Cy Young nod for Kluber, who won in even more convincing fashion with 28 of 30 first-place votes. (Chris Sale received the other two first-place votes in the AL.)
Kluber, who also took home the award back in 2014, rode a blistering hot finish to his second career Cy Young honor. The 31-year-old missed nearly all of May after going on the DL early that month with a lower back strain. At the time of Kluber’s DL placement, he carried a 5.06 ERA through his first six appearances on the season.
The Kluber of old resurfaced upon returning from injury, though. In his first appearance upon activation, Kluber fired six innings of shutout ball with two hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts. From that point forth, he went on an otherworldly hot streak, pitching to an immaculate 1.62 ERA with a 224-to-23 K/BB ratio that looked more like something one would see in MLB: The Show than in real life. All told, Kluber wrapped up his season with an AL-best 2.25 ERA through 203 2/3 innings. Kluber also led the American League in complete games (five), shutouts (three) and walks per nine innings (1.6) while averaging 10.3 punchouts per nine frames as well.
Sale took not only the other two first-place votes but 28 second-place votes, meaning that he and Kluber were first or second on all 30 ballots. Luis Severino finished a distant third place, while Carlos Carrasco, Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel, Ervin Santana and Marcus Stroman rounded out the ballot.
As for Scherzer, the 33-year-old topped 200 innings for the fifth consecutive season and led the National League in strikeouts for the second consecutive year. His gaudy 2.51 ERA and 12.0 K/9 rates were both career-bests, and he’s now made at least 30 starts in the past nine seasons after taking the hill 31 times this season.
Unlike Kluber, Scherzer was dominant from day one in 2017. Remarkably, there was only one point throughout the entire season where Scherzer’s ERA crept above 3.00; on May 20, he yielded three runs in five innings to bump his ERA to 3.02. From that point forward, Scherzer was virtually unhittable, posting a 2.30 ERA over his final 141 innings and at one point whiffing at least 10 hitters in six straight outings.
Kershaw received 25 of the 30 second-place votes, while Zack Greinke and Scherzer’s teammate, Stephen Strasburg, each took home a second-place vote as well. Strasburg wound up finishing in third place, with Greinke taking fourth and Kenley Jansen landing fifth overall in the balloting. Yet another Nats starter Gio Gonzalez, came in sixth place overall, giving the Nats three of the top six in the NL. Robbie Ray, Jacob deGrom, Jimmy Nelson and Alex Wood each collected an odd fourth- or fifth-place vote here and there, rounding out the ballot in that order.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Nationals only control Bryce Harper for one more season, but GM Mike Rizzo tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he would be “surprised” if the two sides don’t discuss an extension prior to Harper reaching the open market. “I feel like I have a great relationship with Bryce and his family since he was 16,” said Rizzo of Harper, whom the Nationals selected with the No. 1 overall pick back in 2010. “…I think Bryce has comfort with [Washington], loves his teammates, likes our organization and has a loyal mentality. But this is a unique player in a unique situation.” Rizzo adds that there’s no set time for extension talks to begin, but Sherman notes that the Nats were able to secure a seven-year extension with fellow Scott Boras client and fellow former No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg less than one year before Strasburg was set to hit the open market. Any talks with Harper would likely be precedent-setting; there’s been plenty of speculation that he’ll ink a contract in excess of $400MM, which would of course shatter Giancarlo Stanton’s record-setting $325MM deal.