Both GM Mike Rizzo and Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez are on the record stating that they’re comfortable with the options at second base in the organization.
Rizzo, in an interview at Winterfest earlier this month, reiterated what he’s said all winter.
With Howie Kendrick, Wilmer Difo, Carter Kieboom, and Luis Garcia, there’s enough depth to go into the season without adding anyone to the mix.
“We feel good with where we’re at with second base,” Rizzo explained. “Difo is a terrific defender at second base and at shortstop, which is very, very valuable. Howie is a terrific second baseman. We’ve just got to see how he comes back from the achilles [injury]. We know he’s an elite hitter in the batter’s box, and we’ll see how he moves around at second base, but we’ve got two studs in the minor leagues that are extremely capable of playing both middle infield positions and I think it’s important to have that depth there.”
Martinez too said he was okay with the idea of a Kendrick/Difo platoon provided Kendrick is healthy.
“Right now I’m good with it,” Martinez told reporters two weeks back. “Howie looks great. He’s walking perfectly, he said he can run right now if he needed to, and he’s going to start hitting with [Hitting Coach Kevin Long], so he said when it comes to Spring Training he’s fully going to be ready to play. So I’m looking forward to getting [Kendrick] out there again, because we missed him. When he got hurt, good/bad, we got to see [Juan] Soto, but we missed Howie. He’s a big part of our lineup, so we hope that we get him back and he’s fully healthy.”
In spite of those public statements, however, the rumors persist. Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo, among others, wrote this weekend that the Nationals were going into the Winter Meetings potentially looking for a reliever and second baseman after having added some depth to the back end of the bullpen (with both Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal), bolstered their catching corps (with both Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes), and upgraded their rotation (with a big deal for Patrick Corbin - 6-year/$140M deal).
“Will their remaining resources go toward a second baseman or an elite reliever? Not sure they’ll be all-in with someone such as [Craig] Kimbrel, but more on the [Zach] Britton, [Andrew] Miller, and Adam Ottavino level. And at second base, could it be Brian Dozier, DJ LeMahieu, or even a reunion with Daniel Murphy?”
Fancred’s Jon Heyman wrote this afternoon, on Day 1 of the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings, that the Nationals were kicking the tires on some right side infielders...
Nats are looking closely at 2B. LeMahieu, Marwin, Harrison all in play.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2018
On potential moves this week: Rizzo has said Nats made contact with DJ LeMahieu’s agent. They also love Marwin Gonzalez, a Boras client. So would assume they’ve “made contact” with his rep, too.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 10, 2018
This isn’t the first time that DJ LeMahieu’s name has come up in connection to the Nationals, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last month that Washington, “... had at least preliminary talks with DJ LeMahieu, the free-agent second baseman and 2016 National League batting champion.”
Rizzo was asked about Marwin Gonzalez during a recent visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, telling the show’s host that every team in the majors is likely interested in Gonzalez.
“He’d fit well with about 29-30 teams,” Rizzo explained. “He’s a terrific player, offensively, defensively, and he’s a great addition to any club.”
Heyman has previously reported that the Nationals have looked at Josh Harrison as well, with the versatile infielder/outfielder also on multiple team’s radars.
So will the Nationals actually add a second baseman to the mix to go along with their other upgrades? Will they find a lefty reliever or go with Matt Grace and Sammy Solis in the pen?
It’s just Day 1 of the Winter Meetings, and the Nationals have done a lot already this winter, but that doesn’t mean they’re done...