Nationals sign LHP Matt Purke to Minor League contract with invitation to Major League Spring Training
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals re-signed left-handed pitcher Matt Purke to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training on Monday.
Purke will now remain with the organization that drafted and developed him, and will continue his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery (May 29, 2014) without any interruptions to his prescribed plan.
The Nationals, who have a wealth of experience in successfully rehabbing pitchers after the ligament replacement surgery, look forward to Purke continuing his progress in their organization.
“We are excited to keep Matt in the organization and to keep his rehab on track,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “We look forward to seeing him rebound from his surgery during the upcoming season.”
The 24-year-old left-hander was drafted by the Nationals in the third round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft as a highly-touted prospect out of Texas Christian University. Injuries have limited him to 29 Minor League appearances in the past three seasons.
On Friday, the Nationals released Purke from the Major League contract he signed shortly after he was drafted, with a plan in place to re-sign him and keep him in the organization.
by Amanda Comak
The Nationals agreed to terms on a Major League contract with infielder/outfielder Kevin Frandsen on Friday, avoiding arbitration and securing the affable utility man for a second season in D.C.
Frandsen, 32, hit .259 with a team-leading 11 pinch hits for the Nationals in 2014 – ranking him 10th in the National League in that category.
An exceptionally versatile player, Frandsen appeared in 105 games for the Nationals last season with time at third base, second base, left field and first base. He started 42 of those games, filling in wherever needed when the Nationals were struck by injuries while also excelling in a bench role.
Frandsen is a career .259 (320-for-1235) hitter with 57 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs and 110 RBI in 507 big league contests spanning eight seasons with the Nationals, Phillies, Angels and Giants. Against left-handed pitching, Frandsen is a career .291 hitter with a .337 on-base percentage and .415 slugging percentage.
With the signing of Frandsen, the Nationals now have 10 remaining players eligible for arbitration: LHP Jerry Blevins, RHP Tyler Clippard, LHP Ross Detwiler, INF Danny Espinosa, RHP Doug Fister, C Jose Lobaton, C Wilson Ramos, RHP Craig Stammen, RHP Drew Storen and RHP Stephen Strasburg.
by Amanda Comak
On the heels of Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams taking home the 2014 BBWAA National League Manager of the Year award, the Nationals announced Wednesday morning that they will welcome back all of their coaches from the 2014 staff.
In keeping bench coach Randy Knorr, pitching coach Steve McCatty, hitting coach Rick Schu, third base coach Bobby Henley, first base coach Tony Tarasco, bullpen coach Matt LeCroy, and defensive coordinator/advance coach Mark Weidemaier in the fold for 2015, Williams will have stability and continuity on his staff as he enters his second year at the helm.
McCatty, the longest-tenured member of the Nationals’ Major League staff, returns for his seventh season. Knorr returns for his fourth season as the Nationals’ bench coach, and sixth year on the staff, while Tarasco and Schu will begin their third seasons on the coaching staff. Henley, LeCroy and Weidemaier will all be back for their second campaigns.
Six of the Nationals’ seven coaches had experience coaching in Washington’s system before earning their Major League assignments, making the Nationals’ an exceptionally “homegrown” staff.
This marks the first time since 2007-2008 that the Nationals have returned their entire coaching staff in successive seasons.
by Amanda Comak
After leading the Washington Nationals to their second National League East title in the last three years, Nationals manager Matt Williams was named the 2014 National League Manager of the Year Tuesday night by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Williams received a total 109 points, including 18 first-place votes. Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle finished second in the voting, and San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy was third.
Williams, who joins Davey Johnson to become the second manager in Nationals history to earn this honor, had an exceptionally successful rookie season in the dugout as he led the Nationals to an NL-best 96 victories and the division title.
“On behalf of the Lerner Family and the entire Washington Nationals organization, I want to offer heartfelt congratulations to Matt on this well-deserved award,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “His first year in the dugout was excellent, and it was a pleasure to watch him grow throughout. He is a respected leader, and the steady hand that navigated our team through many challenges this season.
“What we accomplished this season would not have been possible without the right man at the helm. That was Matt this season, and we’re all looking forward to 2015.”
Since the inception of the award in 1983, Williams is just the fourth first-year manager ever to win it. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he joins Hal Lanier (Houston Astros, 1986), Dusty Baker (San Francisco Giants, 1993), and Joe Girardi (Florida Marlins, 2006).
“I am incredibly honored and humbled by this award,” Williams said. “This was a very special year for us, and I am proud of what we accomplished in my first season at the helm. For me, as a newcomer to the managerial fraternity, it is a privilege just to be considered amongst the best in our game. Clint and Bruce are certainly that.
“While this is an incredible acknowledgement by the writers, I know we have bigger goals to accomplish in Washington and I look forward to the challenge that the 2015 season will bring.”
The Nationals, though besieged by injuries, won their division by the largest margin (17.0 games) of any in the Major Leagues under Williams’ watch. Over the course of the season, the Nationals saw 948 total games missed due to stints on the Disabled List, with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche and Denard Span – all key players — accounting for 284 of those games.
While the Nationals withstood that barrage, Williams’ guided them toward steady improvement as the season progressed.
After playing to a .500 record (27-27) through the season’s first two months, the Nationals were at least four games over the .500 mark in each remaining month of the season, finishing 69-39 from June through September. That stretch included a 19-10 month of August that featured a 10-game winning streak from Aug. 12-21, the longest winning streak in the National League this season.
On Sept. 16, the Nationals clinched their second National League East Division title, and they finished the regular season with a 96-66 record.
Williams, 48, was named the fifth field manager in Nationals history on Oct. 31, 2013. The five-time All-Star third baseman was also voted by his managerial peers as the 2014 Sporting News Manager of the Year.
by Amanda Comak
Desmond and Rendon were honored as Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award winners, voted as the best-hitting shortstop and third baseman, respectively, in the National League.
“Our entire organization is exceptionally proud of Ian and Anthony,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo. “These awards confirm what we already knew: that they are two of the best offensive infielders in the game, and we consider them equally talented defensively. After the seasons each of these homegrown players put together, we’re honored that they did it with our uniform on their backs.”
This is the third such honor for Desmond, who notched his third consecutive 20-home run, 20-stolen base campaign this past season, and the first for Rendon, who established himself as one of the best young talents in the game during his sophomore season in the big leagues.
This is just the second time in the Nationals’ short history that they’ve had multiple players earn the National League’s top offensive award in the same season (also 2012).
“I’m extremely humbled and blessed to have won this award for the third straight year,” Desmond said. “It’s a testament to my teammates, who surround me in the lineup, the trainers – Lee Kuntz, Steve Gober and John Hsu – for keeping me on the field, and obviously the coaching staff for bringing out the best in me every day.
“As much of an honor as this is, I still feel like there are a lot of things I can improve on, and will improve on. I’m going to continue to work hard so I can be better next year.”
Leading all NL shortstops with 154 games played, Desmond hit .255 with a .313 on-base percentage and a .430 slugging percentage in 2014. He also led all NL shortstops in home runs (24) and RBI (91), while finishing second in hits (151), runs (73), and placing among the top 10 in doubles (T-4th, 26), triples (10th, 3), and walks (7th, 46).
As this is the third consecutive season in which Desmond has been named a Silver Slugger Award winner at shortstop — making him the first Nationals player ever to take home three such awards – he now finds himself in elite company. Since the inception of the award in 1980, Desmond is the first National League shortstop to win back-to-back-to-back honors since Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin won five straight from 1988-1992.
Desmond also joins Edgar Renteria and Larkin as the only NL shortstops to win the award at least three times.
Adding 24 stolen bases to his 24 home runs this season, Desmond became just the fourth shortstop in Major League history to notch a 20/20 season at least three times in his career.
“It is that package,” manager Matt Williams said after Desmond hit the milestone. “It’s speed and power… He’s got the ability to do a lot of things. When he puts it together, it’s speed and power, and he’s shown that this year.”
Rendon, who established himself as one of the league’s best infielders in a breakout season, played both second and third base for the Nationals in 2014.
“While I don’t play this game for the individual accolades, I’m incredibly honored to receive this award and to be mentioned in the same breath as these great players — especially my teammate and friend, Ian Desmond,” Rendon said.
“I would like to thank all of the coaches, trainers and teammates who I’ve been with along the way. Without them, I wouldn’t be in a position to accept this.”
Rendon hit .287 with a .351 on-base percentage and a .473 slugging percentage. Leading the National League in runs scored with 111, Rendon clubbed 21 home runs as part of 66 extra-base hits, while walking 58 times and stealing 17 bases.
Exclusively as a third baseman, where he played 134 of his 153 games, Rendon hit .288 with a .353 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage. Nineteen of his 21 home runs came while he was playing the hot corner, as did 53 of his 66 extra-base hits, 72 of his 83 RBI and 89 of his 111 runs scored.
“He’s a very, very impressive player,” Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels told The Washington Post late in the 2014 season. “I put him up with the [Troy] Tulowitzkis and the David Wrights when they first came up, those impact players you don’t normally see at such a young age. You know they’re only going to get better, and you’re like, ‘Great.’ He’s that type of guy — one of those superstars that’s going to be around forever.”
Rendon, who earned himself the nickname ‘Tony Two Bags’ because of his penchant for doubles, finished the year with 16 three-hit games – tied for the third-best mark in the NL with Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.
According to Fangraphs.com, Rendon’s 6.6 Wins Above Replacement for the 2014 season was tops among all NL infielders, and second only to Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (6.8).
NATIONALS TO WIN LOUISVILLE SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS (2005-2014)
2006 OF Alfonso Soriano
2009 3B Ryan Zimmerman
2010 3B Ryan Zimmerman
2012 SS Ian Desmond, 1B Adam LaRoche, P Stephen Strasburg
2013 SS Ian Desmond
2014 SS Ian Desmond, 3B Anthony Rendon
The Washington Nationals’ 2015 Spring Training schedule will conclude on April 4 with an exhibition game vs. the New York Yankees at Nationals Park.
Just two days later, on April 6, the Nationals will begin the 2015 regular season by hosting the New York Mets at Nationals Park on Opening Day.
This will mark the Yankees’ fourth trip to Washington, D.C., including a previous exhibition contest in 2013, and regular-season visits in 2006 and 2012.
With the Nationals facing American League East teams this season in Interleague play, New York will return to D.C. for two regular-season contests on May 19 and 20. The Nationals will then travel to Yankee Stadium for two games on June 9 and 10.
Tickets for the April 4 exhibition game are included in all 2015 regular season full, half and partial season ticket packages. For more information, or to purchase a NATS PLUS membership, visit nationals.com/2015. Information on single-game tickets for this game will be disseminated at a later date.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals welcomed Bob Miller to their front office staff today, naming him Vice President and Assistant General Manager.
Miller, who will assist in all facets of baseball operations, comes to the Nationals after nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, serving most recently as Vice President and Assistant General Manager to Reds’ President of Baseball Operations and GM Walt Jocketty.
In that role, Miller had a hand in all aspects of baseball operations, including arbitration cases, contract negotiations, rules, player evaluations, and departmental budgeting.
Joining the Nationals for his 33rd season in professional baseball, Miller reunites with Rizzo for the first time since the two worked together for seven years with the Arizona Diamondbacks. There they helped build the 2001 World Series championship team, and take Arizona’s Minor League system from No. 29 (as ranked by Baseball America) to No. 1 in five years.
Miller, who initially joined the Reds in Feb., 2006, as Director of Baseball Administration under then-GM Wayne Krivsky, quickly moved through the ranks in Cincinnati. He was promoted to Assistant General Manager in June of 2006 and in Dec., 2006, was named Vice President and Assistant GM.
During his time with the Reds, the team improved from a sub-.500 club to win two division championships and earn three playoff appearances. In 2012, the Reds were also named Baseball America’s Organization of the Year.
Prior to joining the Reds, Miller spent seven seasons with the Diamondbacks — first as Assistant Director of Scouting, then Director of Baseball Operations, and the final three as Assistant General Manager, where he oversaw the organization’s Minor League player development from 2004-05. In 2005, the Diamondbacks were named TOPPS’ Minor League Organization of the Year.
Miller joined the Diamondbacks with 16 years of Minor League experience on his resume, including 14 years at the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, and stops as Vice President of Baseball Operations in the independent Texas-Louisiana League office, along with serving as executive GM of that league’s Amarillo Dillas club.
Miller, 50, graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in finance.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals exercised their option on Denard Span’s contract on Thursday, securing the center fielder’s services for the 2015 season, which will be Span’s third in the District.
In exercising the option, the Nationals answered one of their first offseason questions, and ensured that the talented leadoff man will remain atop their lineup and patrolling center field for at least one more season.
“We knew when we acquired Denard from the Minnesota Twins two years ago what type of player we were getting,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations & General Manager Mike Rizzo. “And he’s done nothing but bear that out the last two seasons.
“Denard was arguably our most consistent offensive player in 2014, keying so much of our offensive production, and his defense in center field is Gold Glove-caliber on a nightly basis. We’re excited to keep him in the fold for the 2015 season.”
Span is coming off perhaps his finest professional season, finishing the 2014 campaign batting .302 with a .355 on-base percentage, a .415 slugging percentage and a career-best 31 stolen bases. He set a Nationals (2005-present) record for hits in a season with 184, and reeled off a 36-game on-base streak from June 28 – Aug. 12 that jumpstarted both his season and the Nationals’ offense.
Over the course of the streak, Span hit .396 with a .463 on-base percentage, and a .458 slugging percentage. It seemed almost every time he made contact the ball found a hole and the 30-year-old found a way to get on base. His BABIP during the stretch: a ridiculous .442.
The Nationals went 21-15 in that stretch, catapulting themselves from a tie with the Atlanta Braves atop the National League East Division to a five-game lead over them by the time the streak ended.
“I couldn’t be more excited to return for another year in D.C,” Span said after he was informed his option was exercised.
For the second consecutive year, Span is a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, the winners of which will be announced on Nov. 4.
Additionally, the Nationals declined to exercise their options on first baseman Adam LaRoche and right-hander Rafael Soriano. They will become free agents. Asdrubal Cabrera, Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz became free agents upon the conclusion of the 2014 World Series.
by Amanda Comak
The finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were announced Thursday afternoon by Rawlings Sports, and for the third consecutive year the Washington Nationals have two players among the honorees.
First baseman Adam LaRoche and center fielder Denard Span were named as finalists at their respective positions, but they’ll have to wait until Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. ET, to find out if either will take home the prize.
LaRoche, who won his first Gold Glove following the 2012 season, faces stiff competition in his quest for a second trophy: Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau.
While LaRoche continued to make many of the outstanding plays that have come to be expected from him over the years, where he shines perhaps even more is in making the fielders around him better. LaRoche’s consistency makes it easier for the fielders he works with everyday to excel. That was evident each day he was in the lineup for the Nationals this past season.
Span, a finalist for a Gold Glove in 2013 and certainly considered by his teammates as one of the finest defensive center fielders in the Major Leagues, is also joined by elite company. He’ll be up against New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares and Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton for the 2014 honors.
An exceptional fielder, Span continued to make the extraordinary play seem routine this season, giving Nationals fans something to look forward to each night he patrolled center field.
Each manager and up to six coaches on each staff voted from a pool of qualified players in their league, and cannot vote for players on their own team. As in 2013, Rawlings also included a sabermetric component to the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process, as part of its recent collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
The SABR Defensive Index accounted for approximately 25 percent of the overall selection total, with the managers and coaches’ vote continuing to carry the majority.
The winners of the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be announced Tuesday night, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 in a special one-hour Baseball Tonight.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals announced their 25-man roster for the 2014 National League Division Series on Friday morning, in advance of their 3:07 p.m. game vs. the San Francisco Giants.
The Nationals’ roster will be comprised of 12 pitchers (three left-handed, nine right-handed) and 13 position players (two catchers, seven infielders, four outfielders).
Here is the Nationals’ full roster:
LHP Jerry Blevins
LHP Gio Gonzalez
LHP Matt Thornton
RHP Aaron Barrett
RHP Tyler Clippard
RHP Doug Fister
RHP Tanner Roark
RHP Rafael Soriano
RHP Craig Stammen
RHP Drew Storen
RHP Stephen Strasburg
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
C Jose Lobaton
C Wilson Ramos
INF Asdrubal Cabrera (S)
SS Ian Desmond
INF Danny Espinosa (S)
INF Kevin Frandsen
1B Adam LaRoche (L)
INF Anthony Rendon
INF Ryan Zimmerman
OF Bryce Harper (L)
OF Nate Schierholtz (L)
OF Denard Span (L)
OF Jayson Werth