The afternoon conversation on the last post was whether Rizzo turns to making a trade or dives into free agency, or both, to add some key players to this 2016 team.
Names bounced around are Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra, Denard Span and Dexter Fowler. Only Fowler would require the Nats to forfeit their #1 pick in the 2016 amateur draft as the rest were not Qualified Offered players.
Mike Rizzo last week at the GM Meetings had this to say:
“You’re going to have a team that is going to have 4 or 5 players that are 24 and younger. It’s going to be a younger, less experienced, but more athletic team with more speed. Those are the characteristics that we’re going to bring into the season.”
That sounds like the Royals blueprint to the World Series the last 2 seasons and add to that the Royals led in team defense with these athletic players who also led the league in offensive contact with lowest strikeout rates which was a flashback to vintage baseball where defense and low strikeouts was coveted and prioritized.
“A lineup that has a healthy Rendon, a Michael Taylor, a Trea Turner, a Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa—those are five guys that are young players that all have exceptional speed and good baserunning ability. In that regard, that’ll be a little transformation.”
Rizzo went on to say that he is confident with the players he has and might not go for any of the big name players.
“I wouldn’t think we’d be big players for one of the big free agent outfielders. We like the three [outfield] guys that we have. We think Michael Taylor is going to be a terrific major league player.”
There were names not mentioned by Rizzo. One of the key names is Yunel Escobar who played most every game and was a pleasant surprise overall with the bat, but was disappointing with the glove.
Let’s say Rizzo makes no moves, here is your potential Opening Day position roster for 2016:
|Matt den Dekker*||0.253||0.315||0.800|
If we pick from that list, does this potential line-up inspire great confidence on your starting 8 position players on Opening Day 2016?
The first of the Nats minor-league deals were signed today and these are two good names to start with.
The #Nats have agreed to terms on Minor League contracts with invitations to MLB Spring Training with LHP Sean Burnett & OF Reed Johnson.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) November 16, 2015
We’ve speculated for weeks that it looked like Rick Schu could return to the Nats as hitting coach and that looks to be nearly official as reported by Bill Ladson with Jacque Jones joining Schu as his assistant hitting coach.
We have also been speculating that Dave Roberts who is a finalist for the Dodgers managers job could end up as the bench coach of the Nats with Alex Cora as another strong candidate. Once Roberts decides what he is going to do, Baker and Rizzo should be able to round out the rest of the coaching staff.
Dusty Baker vowed to have diversity in his coaching staff of “young and old and white, black and Latin”. So far we haven’t seen any names of Latino coaches confirmed for the 2016 coaching staff as we have so far Baker (Mgr), Maddux (Pitching), Speier (Bench or 3rd) , Lopes (1st), Schu (hitting), and Jones (Asst Hitting). That leaves 3rd or bench coach open to fill the position that Speier does not, and bullpen coach, unless they fill the defensive coordinator spot that Mark Weidemaier held. Would be great to have Pudge Rodriquez for the bullpen coach or even Alex Cora for the bench coach otherwise they have some work to do to get that Latino coach on this staff. Lopes happens to be Cape Verdean which is a mixed heritage of Portugeuse and West African, and he is not Latino.