Ready to hear from Rizzo and Martinez

SAN DIEGO – Though most everyone from the baseball world arrived here Sunday, the Winter Meetings actually get underway today.

Aside from the announcement of the Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Era Players Committee vote – more on that shortly – nothing official happened Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. That will change today with a flurry of activity, announcements and media availabilities.

We will hear from both Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez this afternoon (Pacific Time), and there are no shortage of questions to ask them.

Rizzo surely will be pressed on his overall plan for the offseason, which of course depends on what kind of budget he’s been allotted by an ownership group that has been trying to sell the Nationals the last eight months. Even if he doesn’t provide concrete answers to every question, there should be plenty to interpret from the longtime general manager’s words.

Are the Nats in a position to add another big bat to a lineup that is still lacking in the wake of last week’s signing of Jeimer Candelario? Are they willing to spend the kind of money a proven starting pitcher is commanding this winter in an attempt to boost a rotation that sorely needs it?

Beyond that, does Rizzo have any new insight on Stephen Strasburg’s status? What about updates on MacKenzie Gore and Cade Cavalli’s offseason rehab?

Martinez’s answers to several questions should also provide some insight into the manager’s thinking right now about roster construction and lineup decisions. Who’s his third baseman? Where will Joey Meneses play? What does he believe the team’s biggest areas of need still are?

We should start to get a sense of the Nationals’ thinking on all of these subjects later today.

* So, about that Hall of Fame vote announced Sunday night …

For those who missed it, the Contemporary Era Players Committee – this replaced what for a long time was known as the Veterans Committee – unanimously selected Fred McGriff for induction in Cooperstown next summer. The “Crime Dog” received 16-of-16 votes from a panel that included six Hall of Famers (Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell), plus seven longtime baseball executives and three longtime writers/historians.

That was quite the overturning of the results from McGriff’s last attempt on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot: He received only 39.8 percent of that vote in 2019.

The committee’s other decisions, however, were perhaps more notable, because presented an opportunity to vote in several highly successful but highly controversial baseball greats, they resoundingly said no.

Don Mattingly finished second on the ballot with eight votes, followed by Curt Schilling (seven) and Dale Murphy (six). The four other players under consideration (Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro) each received fewer than four votes, according to the Hall of Fame, which did not reveal exact numbers for any of them.

Keep in mind: Bonds and Clemens each received more than 65 percent support in their final crack at the BBWAA ballot last year. Schilling, despite the awful things he said about reporters in recent years, topped out at 71.1 percent in 2021.

For years, we wondered if the Hall of Famers themselves and the people who run baseball themselves would show more or less support than the writers for suspected steroid users and others seemingly held out of Cooperstown because of the so-called “character clause.” The answer: They showed less support. Way less support.

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