WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said his most pleasant surprise this season has been the maturation of the team's young players, including shortstop Ian Desmond, second baseman Danny Espinosa, catcher Wilson Ramos and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann.
"They have progressed to the point that there is a lot of excitement for the future," Rizzo said.
Rizzo also said his biggest disappointment was not winning enough games. Entering Sunday, Washington had 77 wins. He said the team has lacked the ability to deliver a clutch hit with runners in scoring position.
Rizzo is going to try to fix the problem this offseason. He wants hitters with a high on-base percentage, a top-of-the-order bat to fill one of the outfield positions in center field or right field, if Jayson Werth moves over to center.
The Nats have enough pitching depth on their Major League roster and Minor League system that they could make a trade for an outfielder.
"We would discuss trading some of our pitching to fill some of our needs, if the trade makes sense to us," Rizzo said.
The team is also looking for a starting pitcher who would have an immediate impact and could help the young hurlers such as Zimmermann and right-hander Stephen Strasburg. It was reported by MLB.com earlier this week that the Nationals were scouting Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson, who is a free agent after this season.
"We are an outfield bat away and a starting pitcher away from being a contender in the division," Rizzo said.
Johnson, Rizzo mum on manager's future
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo declined to talk about Johnson's future with the club. Johnson has two years left on his contract as a consultant. If he doesn't come back as the skipper, he will play a major role in finding a manager.
Third-base coach Bo Porter, Triple-A Syracuse manager Randy Knorr and first-base coach Trent Jewett are in-house candidates for the job. Rizzo declined to give a timetable on when a manager would be named.
"I love Davey," Rizzo said. "He is going to be back next year in some capacity. He is either going to be the manager of the ballclub or have a say on who is the manager of the ballclub."
"I anticipate the process to be much quicker," Rizzo said "We already identified the candidates. We are going to talk to them."
Johnson said he is taking one day at a time and thinking about managing against the Braves and Marlins the next four days.
"I plan on managing today and going home, play a little golf and relax," Johnson said. "[I'm going to] introduce myself to my wife, dog and my kids. There is a long process that the team has to go through. I'm very comfortable with that."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.