Now that Matt Williams has been fired as manager of the Washington Nationals, who will take his place?
That's a question on the mind of many, as the Nats made the decision to part ways with Williams and his coaching staff after a disappointing season that saw the team go from World Series favorites to missing the playoffs entirely.
Although Williams isn't solely to blame for the team's poor results, his dismissal appeared inevitable in the last few weeks. In addition to the losing product on the field, the dugout spat that took place between Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper last week was a clear sign that Williams was losing control of his clubhouse.
So how will the Nats avoid a similar situation moving forward? General manager Mike Rizzo met with the media on Monday and made it clear that the team will prioritize previous experience in their search for a new skipper.
"Experience is always helpful," Rizzo said. "It always adds a layer of expertise to anybody’s resume. We feel that where we’re at in our timetable, our time frame of winning a championship, we would lean toward someone who has some type of managerial experience at the major league level."
That being said, James Wagner of the Washington Post lists Dusty Baker, Jim Leyland, Bud Black, Don Wakamatsu and Ron Gardenhire as potential candidates with experience. Wagner also notes that Randy Knorr, Dave Martinez and Cal Ripken Jr. could also be in the mix, however, none of the three have managed before.
Here are a few other rumors making their way around the major leagues today:
Josh Reddick: The Oakland Athletics are looking to sign the outfielder to an extension before he reaches free agency at the end of next year, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "Josh is a good player and he’s still young ," new A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said. "We’ve always liked having him here. Talented guy, does everything well. [...] We're all very pleased with the year Josh had." Reddick is coming off a strong season at the plate, hitting .272 with 20 home runs and 77 RBIs.
A.J. Pollock: Another outfielder who could be in line for an extension this offseason is Pollock. Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said Monday that the team has approached the 27-year-old about a new deal and that Pollock appeared to be receptive to the idea, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. According to Piecoro, Pollock likes it in Arizona and wants to stay. Pollock is coming off an incredible year at the plate, slugging 20 home runs and stealing 39 bases in addition to hitting .315. The outfielder is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, meaning he will likely receive a large raise whether or not he signs a new long-term deal.
Mike Leake: The San Francisco Giants will target starting pitching upgrades this offseason and bringing Leake back will be their top priority, Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com writes. Giants general manager Bobby Evans said there is "mutual interest" between the team and Leake, although he understands that there are other names out there. "We’re going to be open-minded about the pace of negotiations and discussions," Evans said. "I'm not ready to pin down any one guy at this point. I think we'll be open-minded to the pace." After arriving in San Francisco via trade, Leake went 2-5 with a 4.07 ERA as a Giant. The 27-year-old's final start of the season was a two-hit shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Los Angeles Angels: Having just missed the playoffs this season, Angels owner Arte Moreno told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that his team will look to remain in contention next year. "Our plans are not to rebuild. We would like to become more competitive," Moreno said. In a separate tweet, Gonzalez notes that Moreno won't let the luxury tax threshold prevent the team from making a move they need to make. "If it’s the right player, in the right situation, we’ll do whatever is needed," Moreno said. Los Angeles hired Billy Eppler as its new GM on Sunday.
Atlanta Braves: In looking to return to contention as soon as possible, the Braves will prioritize rebuilding their bullpen this offseason, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes. Atlanta's relief corps had the second-worst ERA in the league last year at 4.69, a far cry from the strong pitching the team used to ride into the postseason each year. "We can make significant improvements with our pitching," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "We're going to have young pitchers who are a year older and a year better. I think we'll have a bullpen that will have a lot of depth. Does that translate to another 15-20 wins? Maybe." Atlanta went 67-95 this year, a nearly 30-win dropoff from where the team was two years ago when it had the best bullpen ERA in the league (2.46).