MLB Notes: Nats hire Matt Williams as manager

MLB Notes: Nats hire Matt Williams as manager
October 31, 2013, 10:30 pm

Matt Williams spent 17 years as a major-league third baseman, beginning his career with the Giants in 1987. (AP)

WASHINGTON -- More than a decade ago, when Matt Williams was still a third baseman, and Mike Rizzo was still climbing the front-office rungs, the future general manager thought he noticed the makings of a future skipper.

Well, here they are. Williams will make his debut as a major-league manager with the Washington Nationals, a hiring announced by Rizzo on Thursday, one day after the World Series ended.

"Matt played with intensity as a player, but he also was a terrific teammate. You talk to the guys that he played with, and they swear by him. He was always team first, and self second. He was the consummate team player and a great teammate. He was a leader in the clubhouse, by example and also a vocal leader," Rizzo said (see full story).

Indians: Perez released, Giambi re-signed
CLEVELAND -- The Indians closed out their relationship with Chris Perez.

The team released the colorful closer Thursday following a season in which he performed below his All-Star abilities, got arrested and surrendered his job in the final week as Cleveland tried to clinch a playoff spot.

Also, the Indians re-signed veteran slugger Jason Giambi, who provided leadership last season along with some clutch hits.

A two-time All-Star, Perez spent five seasons in Cleveland. And while he saved 124 games, Perez often was at the center of turmoil that overshadowed his pitching. He angered Indians fans last season for saying they didn't support the team like they should, and he rankled Cleveland's front office by criticizing trades and stating the Indians weren't spending enough to win (see full story).

Royals: Shields to stay with K.C.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals exercised their $13.5 million option on right-hander James Shields on Thursday after he anchored one of the league's best starting rotations last season.

Shields, acquired last offseason in a trade from Tampa Bay, went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA and an AL-leading 228 2-3 innings. Shields was especially strong after the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.06 ERA to help the Royals get into playoff contention.

Kansas City went 43-27 after the break to finish 86-76, its best record since 1989 (see full story).

Rangers: Berkman let go
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers have declined their $12 million contract option for Lance Berkman, making the 37-year-old switch-hitter a free agent.

Berkman gets a $1 million buyout for the second year of the deal signed in January.

Berkman hit .242 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in 73 games this season. He went on the disabled list July 7 with a left inflammation and a sore right knee, and played only five games after coming back the final month of the season (see full story).

Cardinals: Westbrook bought out
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals declined their $9.5 million option for next season on pitcher Jake Westbrook, who was not on their postseason roster after battling elbow and back injuries much of the year.

The 36-year-old Westbrook, who was 7-8 with a 4.63 ERA, gets a $1 million buyout.

The sinkerballer appeared in 21 games, all but two of them starts. He was barely used late in the year and got the start in the season finale as a nod to his contributions, working one scoreless inning (see full story).

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