NATIONALS ANNOUNCE MAJOR LEAGUE COACHING STAFF:
The Washington Nationals were still looking for a bullpen coach when GM Mike Rizzo and new manager Dusty Baker met with reporters last week at the Winter Meetings.
Rizzo said then it was something they discussed and a decision on the one remaining position to fill on Baker's staff would come soon.
"That's a Dusty decision," he told reporters. "He's going to choose the bullpen coach in concert with Mike Maddux, so that's a question that should be posed to Dusty. But as I spoke to him earlier today, he had a few names that he was going to toss around and we were going to discuss them later."
"We'll fill that in the next couple of days," Baker said. "We'd like to fill it before we get out of here."
When exactly they reached a decision is unclear, but the Nationals announced this morning that Dan Firova will be Baker's bullpen coach.
Firova, 59, was a catcher, drafted in the second round by Seattle in 1980, who debuted in the majors with the Mariners in 1981.
He played in 17 games total in his major league career, failing to collect a hit in seven plate appearances, but spent 13 years in the minor leagues in U.S. and Mexico, "before joining the Tecolotes de Nuevo Laredo as a coach in 1992," as the Nationals noted in a press release this afternoon.
Firova spent over twenty years coaching and managing in the Mexican League before being named to the Nationals' staff.
He joins Chris Speier (bench coach), Maddux (pitching coach), Rick Schu (who returns as the Nationals' hitting coach), Davey Lopes (first base coach), Bobby Henley (third base coach) and Jacque Jones (assistant hitting coach) on Dusty Baker's staff.
Speaking of the Nationals' bullpen and about that left-handed hitter:
The Nationals added a number of relievers to the bullpen last week at the Winter Meetings, but there's still chatter that additional moves may be made before the season starts.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal speculated this afternoon that the Nationals, who reportedly made a $200M offer to Jason Heyward, could still be in search of a bat, and, "are deep enough in both cash and prospects to make almost any move they want."
Rosenthal's sources tell him the Nationals, "... showed early interest in Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and recent interest in free-agent second baseman Kelly Johnson," and he goes on to speculate about, "... a trade of prospects for Reds third baseman Todd Frazier and closer Aroldis Chapman."
Sources: #Nationals want to add a second baseman, preferably a left-handed hitter. One possibility: Free agent Kelly Johnson.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2015
Espinosa likely to open at SS for #Nationals. Turner could be ready mid-season. Espinosa then could platoon with new 2B and fill in at SS.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2015
Washington could play Frazier at third and Anthony Rendon at second, Rosenthal suggests, and, even after the recent allegations against Chapman, which he says could "create a public relations fall-out," he thinks, "... the Nationals or another team could better absorb the consequences if they added Frazier in the same deal."
While he notes that Dusty Baker said last week that he "had nothing but love" for Chapman, with Baker later adding he hoped the allegations weren't true, GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at Nats WinterFest this weekend that they were no longer pursuing the hard-throwing lefty in light of the recent revelations.
Asked about the previous reports of interest, Rizzo said, "it's changed, obviously, with the allegations against him. It's something that we're not going to continue to go after until we find out how things have happened. It's something that we don't want to get into that because of the allegations against him. So there's plenty of other targets that we have and we're going to move on to those."