Mason Thompson Time:
In the flurry of trade deadline moves on Friday, the Washington Nationals sent veteran reliever Daniel Hudson to the San Diego Padres, in return for both right-hander Mason Thompson and infielder Jordy Barley, and Thompson, 23, and a 6’7’’, 223-pound right-hander, was the first player acquired at the deadline to get the call to join his new club in the majors.
“Yeah, we’re going to add Mason Thompson, assuming that his plane arrives on time,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez announced in his pregame Zoom call with reporters on Saturday.
“We’re hoping that he’s here before the game,” Martinez explained. “It gives us another arm in the bullpen, the guy that we got for Hudson, big arm, big kid, I’m looking forward to watching him pitch, I mean, he throws the ball well.”
Thompson, who made his MLB debut earlier this season, came to D.C. with a (4-3) record, a 5.34 ERA, 25 Ks, and eight walks in 24 games and 28 2⁄3 IP for Triple-A El Paso this season.
The benefits for Martinez in seeing some of the new additions to the organization in person?
“I want to see these guys, I know that he’s pitched well in [El Paso],” the manager said, “but I want to see him here, I want to see him pitching for us and I want to get him used to some of the things we do. So, as I said before, we’re going to get these guys and they’re going to play. And he’s going to come out here and he’s going to pitch and we’re going to see how he reacts and see how he does.”
Why was Thompson the first of the 12 players (mostly prospects) the Nationals acquired at the deadline to get the call?
“He’s had some big league experience,” Martinez explained, “... and like I said, we watched him, I watched how he’s pitching, my biggest concern, like I always talk about, he throws the ball over the plate. He’s got a heavy ball, he’s anywhere from 94-98, so we wanted to give him an opportunity to kind of come here and fit right in and pitch out of our bullpen.”
Did he make it on time for last night’s game?
“He got here ... in a roundabout way,” Martinez said. “It took him — he had to drive, fly, the whole nine yards. I spoke to him before the game, I came in when he got here, I spoke to him, and just told him ‘Hey, look, got to get your feet wet today, get situated. I’m not going to use you, get to know the guys down there,’ and said, ‘Be ready to go tomorrow.”
Luis García at SS?:
With Trea Turner on the COVID-IL and then dealt to Los Angeles, Davey Martinez went with Alcides Escobar at short in the last few games, with Luis García starting at second base.
Escobar had been playing second with Turner at short, of course, and García has played a bunch at second in the minors and majors early in his career, but predominantly short this season at Triple-A Rochester.
Is he the shortstop of the future in D.C. now? Is Escobar, who’s spent the majority of his 12-year career at short, going to get most of the starts now that Turner is a Dodger? [ed. note - “That still hurts a little.”]
How has Martinez been deciding who’s at short with Turner out and then gone?
“I think — at some point we’ll get García over at shortstop a little bit as well,” he said. “But I kind of — look, you know, the Trea Turner trade happened, and Alcides was playing well, he is a shortstop, he was a shortstop, we moved him over to second, he did play well, he worked with [Bench Coach Tim Bogar], he did play well at second base. But he’s a natural shortstop, and García, we wanted him to play second base, he’s comfortable over there, but he also played some shortstop as well in the minor leagues, so but we’re going to — I want to see him play both, so he’ll get a chance to play some short and some second, but right now he’s playing second base.”
García, of course, started at short last night, and went 1 for 4 with a single.
Martinez offered the following analysis on what García needs to work on at short after the game.
“We just — like said, we got to get him to start moving his feet a little bit better, stop sitting back, we got to get him to come get the ball. So, we’ll work on it with him. He’ll get better. He’s swinging the bat pretty good. But that defense, I tell him, defense is a huge part of the game, so we’ll get it better.”
Step Back, Refocus, Reboot:
Who better to ask about Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo’s plan to step back, refocus, and reboot than the man who’s been here longer than the General Manager, Ryan Zimmerman, the ‘05 1st Round pick, who’s playing out a one-year deal with the team after opting out of playing in 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign.
Zimmerman has seen it all in his time in D.C., so what did he think of all the action from the Nationals and the plan Rizzo laid out to get things going again?
“We just got a ton of players back,” Zimmerman said of the 12 players acquired in return for the eight players Rizzo dealt.
“Obviously you add that into the system, there’s a lot been said about our system and whatever place Baseball America puts it,” the 36-year-old veteran continued.
“No games have ever been won or lost in Baseball America. But I think our organization just needs to continue doing what it’s doing, and developing players.
“If you look at these teams that are really good, they obviously have good veteran guys, but when people get hurt, or every year, they kind of cycle in these young guys.
“You have to develop young guys, you have to have a farm system that has people in it that know how to play the game, so when it’s their time to come up they can succeed, or if one of your guys gets hurt for a month or two you have to have people that can come up and do it.
“We needed to kind of restock and kind of rebuild that part of the organization, and that’s what they started to do yesterday, so I think it’s a good start.”
Rizzo talked about taking over as GM in 2009, and making the postseason in 2012, when he was asked for a reasonable timeframe for a reboot.
“I’m not going to sit here and say when I think we can contend, but like I said before, I’ve known Mike for a long time and Mike doesn’t like to lose.
“So, I don’t know what that means, and I don’t know what their plan is, but I know he’s not going to sit around and just let us lose. He’s going to have a plan to get better quick, and I think a lot of people around here trust him and I think he’ll do a good job.”