On Day 1 of the 2023 MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN, a reporter pointed out how all five outfielders currently on the Washington Nationals’ 40-man are right-handed hitters. It seems an obvious area the club is going to address this winter.
“You must have read my mind. We need a left-handed bat,” manager Davey Martinez replied in his media availability from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Does the 59-year-old skipper who signed a multi-year extension in D.C. last season want a bat in left field? As the DH? At first? At third base?
“I would like to get a left-handed hitting outfielder,” Martinez clarified. “I’ll take anyone, but to have an outfielder would be great.”
It’s not the only hole to fill. It’s always pitching, pitching, pitching, with the Nationals, of course.
And first and third base are as of now unclaimed (as well as second base, apparently, more on that tomorrow).
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged all of the above when he too spoke with reporters in Tennessee on Monday.
“I think we’re going to be aggressive again this year looking for a bat that can play the corner infield, be it third base or first base, or DH, or left field, or a combination of all three of those,” Rizzo, the GM and President of Baseball operations in D.C. explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“And then we’ll resort back to getting more pitching.”
Some of the holes on the major league roster could be filled from within eventually, and the club has assembled significant depth in the outfield in the minors, along with some options at the corner infield spots, so they might not want to ink anyone to long-term deals at those spots this winter.
“We’re not going to block guys,” Rizzo said, as quoted on MASN:
“But if we’re fortunate enough that we have this influx of guys knocking on the big league door, then that’ll be a good day for us here. Players, they tell me when they’re ready by their play on the field. We’ve never had a problem with moving players quickly to the big leagues if they can perform up there. And we’ll have no qualms about putting them there now.”
Martinez said some of the power the club wants to add to the lineup this offseason could come from within and without.
“I think it’s going to be both. I really do. As you can see, some of our young players started getting it towards the end there.
“I think there’s still a lot more out of CJ [Abrams], out of Keibert [Ruiz] and some of our younger guys.
“We do have some young players that are coming that I think will supply some power as well. I think this winter we’re going to look elsewhere too to see if we can maybe fill some gaps that we need to fill.
“We’re in a tough situation because we want to bring — we want to get our young guys up here and we don’t want to take too many spots away from those guys when they’re ready, but yet we got to compete at the big league level.
“So we’ll look at all avenues and all aspects and see what we can do.”
There is, of course, a power bat in the outfield in San Diego who is supposedly available for the right return...
“Are we going to get him?” Martinez joked with a reporter when Juan Soto’s name came up in a different context on Monday. “I’ll take him back.”
Asked about the possibility of adding starting pitching to the mix, (along with MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, Jake Irvin, Patrick Corbin, Trevor Williams, Jackson Rutledge, and Cade Cavalli at some point maybe as he recovers from Tommy John surgery), and the balance there with wanting to let young starters grow while also competing, Martinez said he and Rizzo don’t like to lose ... and you can always use more pitching.
“[Rizzo], he’s a competitor and he wants to win games,” Martinez said.
“We could add another starting pitcher in that mix. But it will definitely help us develop our younger players, younger pitchers as well,” he added.
“But I want to see our young pitchers pitch. Some of these guys got a year under their belts, some of them have three quarters of a year under their belt.
“I want to see what they can do coming out of Spring Training.”
The continued development of the young core of the rotation is a major consideration, as it was last season, and Martinez said he could once again experiment with a six-man rotation when there are long stretches of games without a break.
“I want to see them grow, though,” he said. “I want to see them compete. So this to me is going to be an interesting Spring Training to see how they bounce back from last year, because a lot of them did pitch a lot. We had some guys that were injured before, and they made it through last year. So this year will be critical. But, yeah, I’ll take a good quality starter anytime.”
“We’ve got several holes to fill,” Rizzo said.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us this year, and I think we’re going to take our aggressive approach when it suits us and wait for the market when it suits us.
“I think we’re going to be busy here.”