WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As the Nationals prepared to open up their 2018 Grapefruit League schedule on Friday afternoon, general manager Mike Rizzo maintained that he was satisfied with his current roster.Free agents continue to linger unsigned on the market and the Nats have an opening in the starting
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As the Nationals prepared to open up their 2018 Grapefruit League schedule on Friday afternoon, general manager Mike Rizzo maintained that he was satisfied with his current roster.
Free agents continue to linger unsigned on the market and the Nats have an opening in the starting rotation, but Rizzo once again reiterated he was not looking to add to his rotation.
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"We kind of got our shopping done quickly," Rizzo said. "We had a strategy going into the offseason and I think we fulfilled the strategy, albeit early in the offseason calendar. I think we got guys we wanted. We identified them, we went after them hard and got them."
Washington made its splash this offseason mostly by returning a few of its key free agents. It started with re-signing free-agent right-hander Brandon Kintzler in the bullpen, adding Matt Adams to the bench to replace Adam Lind, and bringing back Howie Kendrick to serve as the veteran utility player in reserve.
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Earlier this week, the Nationals signed right-hander Joaquin Benoit to add another piece to their bullpen. The move followed the team's announcement that right-hander Koda Glover had arrived to camp with right shoulder soreness and still has not been cleared to throw. Rizzo did not have an update on Glover, other than the club would take its time with his recovery. But while adding Benoit would seem to be a result of Glover's status, Rizzo denied the two had any connection to each other.
"The timing of it, I think, is coincidental," Rizzo said. "That wasn't the plan -- Glover's hurt, we bring in Benoit. We'd been discussing it for a couple weeks and we finally made the deal. So I wouldn't read into it that we signed him the day we announced that Koda wasn't going to be ready."
Rizzo had so much success re-signing free agents this offseason that he would certainly like to carry that momentum into next offseason, when Bryce Harper is set to become a free agent. And Rizzo was happy to hear Harper state earlier this week that he would not be fielding any questions about his future after this season.
"We're in agreement," Rizzo said. "We're not going to let anything take the focus off this. We're going to talk about baseball business and we have total support, him not talking about it. We're not going to talk about it. That's the way things will work out as smoothly as possible."
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So the focus remains on this Nationals camp, the first run by first-year manager Dave Martinez. It is still early in Martinez's tenure at camp, but consider Rizzo impressed so far.
"He came as advertised," Rizzo said. "Big energy. Big communication skills. He commands the room. He's got great respect. He's got a great support staff with his coaches. They're all the same kind of people. Their personalities are similar and I really like the vibe here. I think it's conducive for success."