Manager Matt Williams has been the target of persistent criticism, so could his job be in jeopardy? General manager Mike Rizzo gave Williams the dreaded vote of confidence Sunday, telling MLB.com’s Bill Ladson: “"I have nothing but complimentary things to say about our manager since we hired him."
Late-season firings of postseason contenders are not unprecedented. Back in 2008, Ned Yost was canned as field boss of the Brewers with 12 games left, and Dale Sveum took Milwaukee to the playoffs, where it lost to the Phillies in the NLDS.
If the Nats, the overwhelming favorite to win the NL East back in April, are sitting home in October, Williams could be in serious trouble. “Rizzo isn't going anywhere, so he may have to make a tough decision on Williams, whom he hired and believed in,” writes Nick Cafardo in the Boston Globe.
Here are some other rumors from around the major leagues:
Chase Utley: The Giants and Angels remain interested in working out a waiver deal for the Phillies’ second baseman prior to the August 31 for postseason eligibility, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. What are the Phillies’ looking for? ESPN Insider Jim Bowden suggests the Phillies send Utley and cash to the Giants for right-handed pitching prospect Kyle Crick. The Giants have a hole to fill at second base, where they hope to have Joe Panik back from a lower back injury by September 1. Utley would start right away for the Giants, and if he gets hot, the Giants would have the luxury of waiting until Panik is fully healthy before he returns,” Bowden writes.
San Diego Padres: Christina Kahrl of ESPN.com says it would not be a surprise if the San Diego Padres do pull off any waiver deals prior to the August 31 deadline. Any offer for Justin Upton has to be in the ballpark of what a late first-round draft pick would be worth to the Padres. The Padres would be in line for the 2016 pick if they make Upton a qualifying offer and he elects to sign elsewhere.
Aroldis Chapman: When teams asked about the availability of the star closer prior to the July 31 deadline, the Reds’ asking price, by all accounts, was exorbitant. Cafardo reports that GM Walt Jocketty will at least listen to offers in the offseason “when the price might be more realistic.” Chapman will be eligible for free agency after next season.
New York Mets: After another rough outing by Bobby Parnell on Sunday, the Mets could use another bullpen arm, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman lists Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, John Axford, Edward Mujica and David Aardsma as potential candidates who already have cleared waivers.
Matt Cain: The Giants aren’t fully committed to keeping Cain in the rotation after giving up 18 earned runs in his past four starts, reports Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com. The club will have to make a decision by Tuesday, when Mike Leake comes off the DL to face the Cardinals.
Marcell Ozuna: There are mixed views inside the Marlins front office regarding Ozuna, who recently was recalled following a minor league demotion. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says at least one prominent member of the Marlins’ hierarchy is open to shopping Ozuna over the winter.
Doug Harris: The Nationals’ assistant general manager might draw interest for some potential GM openings this winter, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. Currently in the sixth season with the Nats, the 45-year-old Harris was given the task of managing the pro scouting department last winter on top of his minor league duties.