There isn’t much in the way of Washington Nationals-related rumors coming out of Day 1 of the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, though the Washington Post’s beat writer Jorge Castillo reported this morning that sources told him the Nationals, “... have asked about Addison Reed and Matt Adams,” which would make sense given their need for a right-handed reliever at the back of the bullpen and a left-handed hitting backup first baseman (who can also play a little outfield if necessary).
While the Nationals aren’t coming up in rumors, yet, new Nats’ skipper Dave Martinez met with reporters this afternoon and discussed the roster he’s inheriting and how he plans to use the players he’ll be working with in his first season as a manager after ten years as Joe Maddon’s bench coach in Tampa Bay and Chicago (NL).
Par exemple?: Martinez talked about how he planned to use Adam Eaton, who was hurt just one month into his first season in D.C. after he was acquired in the big deal of the 2016-17 Winter Meetings for the Nationals, in a 3-for-1 trade with Chicago’s White Sox.
Now-former Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker had Eaton batting first for 16 of the 23 games he did play, and Martinez said today that is likely where he’ll hit this season, though he’ll shift to left field with Jayson Werth now a free agent and Michael A. Taylor in center field with Bryce Harper in right.
Eaton is, of course, working his way back from a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee and a high ankle sprain in his left leg, suffered when he lunged awkwardly at first base in late April, so Martinez said the most important thing is making sure the outfielder is healthy.
“Right now the biggest thing is getting him completely healthy,” Martinez said.
“He's biting at the bit, he hasn't played in a while, and it's so funny, I talked to him and he said, ‘I'll be ready to go in Spring Training.’ And I said, ‘Hey, hold on a second. I need you to be ready to go Opening Day.’
“So we'll take baby steps to get him good, baseball ready, and then we'll go from there. But if he is healthy, of course, he's going to lead off and probably play left field.”
Asked for any other thoughts on how he might line his players up, Martinez laughed and said, “We’ve got to keep some things a secret, you know.”
Told that he didn’t, necessarily, have to keep things secret, he said, “... all I can say is that we got a lot of unbelievable good athletes that can do a multiple of things. So you may see some different lineups out there, but you look from up to down, the lineup is really solid. So we'll play with it a little bit in Spring Training and see what we can come up with.”
Asked to elaborate on that response, and whether he was a manager who liked to keep a set lineup or one that would mix things up, Martinez said he would focus on using all of his players to keep them sharp.
“What I like is to utilize all 25 guys on the roster,” he explained.
“I mean, I think it's important that the role players get a chance to play as well.
“So you'll see a lot of that. I think this day and age rest is important for some of your star players, so they're going to get their rest.”
As for the roster he is inheriting, and what they’re looking to add this winter, Martinez said, “... [t]here's some things that we're looking at, some possibilities. Right now on paper we're pretty solid all the way around. But there's always, if you can better your team and your organization, then there's always things you can do.”
His job, Martinez explained, is to make the most of what he’s given to work with.
“For me, my job is to take whatever players we get and build that relationship so they can play consistently on the field,” he said. “I got to get these guys to compete every day at the highest level. That's my job, that's the coaches' job.
“We got pretty good people right now sitting in the room, gathering information about players and what our needs are and how well they fit in our organization.”
Will the Nationals leave the Winter Meetings with any new players? It’s just Day 1, be patient...