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The Nationals have been discussing the need to add a top of the rotation starter all offseason long. But after all the best starters signed elsewhere in free agency, it seemed as though they would be unable to accomplish one of their stated goals. But now the team is talking about acquiring that player by different means.
According to Phil Wood of MASN, the Nationals have had discussion with the Cleveland Indians about potential acquiring Fausto Carmona along with outfielder Grady Sizemore in a trade.
David Andriesen of CBSSports has some more on the kind of pitcher Fauston Carmona is, and a warning not to get too excited over the reports of a report about very early "discussions."
Carmona is due $6.1 million in 2011, with three years of club options beyond that. He wouldn't exactly be the top-of-the-rotation ace Mike Rizzo went into the winter targeting, but based on his 2010 numbers (13-14, 3.77 ERA, 210.1 innings, 102 ERA+), he can at least be a solid rotation piece....
Keep in mind that this is just talk, and the Nationals might end up interested in one of the two instead of both, but if they got both it would be $13.6 million for a couple of potentially big pieces with options in place for another year (or, alternately, the chance to cut ties).
Carmona might not be the elite pitcher that the Nationals had hoped they got this offseason, but he would be a great young pitcher to hold down the fort until Strasburg and Zimmermann take over, and to also be a part of the rotation of the future. He is a sinker ball pitcher, which would be particularly effective after the Nationals improve their infield defense in the offseason, another goal of the team.
Sizemore represents a little bit more of a risk. He is coming off knee surgery that limited him to just 33 games last year and is a free agent after the coming season. But when he is healthy he is one of the best center fielders in the game and is still just 28 years old. If he could stay right, he would be a welcome replacement to Nyjer Morgan, and could join Jayson Werth in what would become a pretty formidable outfield both offensively and defensively.
For more, head on over to our Nationals blog, Federal Baseball.
The Washington Nationals have now filled out their bench. They have reportedly signed utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. to a one-year contract, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
Hairston will make $2 million on a one-year contract, with incentives that could push his salary to $3 million, according to Rosenthal. He has already passed his physical and has agreed to those terms, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Hairston, who will turn 35 this season, played for the San Diego Padres last season. He hit .244 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs in 119 games, making 476 plate appearances. The Nationals will be his seventh team. He came up in 1998 as a member of the Baltimore Orioles' organization, playing seven seasons there.
Hairston will likely fill in a second base, shortstop and in the outfield next season.
It was reported yesterday that the Nationals were closing in on a deal with reliever Todd Coffey, and now it appears those talks have come to fruition. Bill Ladson is reporting that the Nats have agreed to terms with Coffey and that he will join the team pending a physical.
Coffey will join an already crowded Nationals bullpen, and it is yet to be determined what exactly his role will be. The Nationals had expressed interest in bringing aboard a veteran reliever to help Drew Storen with the closing duties, but Coffey doesn't really fit that description. He is a veteran, but he isn't really much of a closer.
The bullpen is the unquestioned strength of the Nationals team, and Coffey's addition only makes it stronger. Depth can only be a good thing,ts agree to terms with reliever Todd Coffey even if it only frees up another reliever to be used in a trade to fill another hole on the team.
The Nationals may not be done acquiring pitchers this offseason. One day after trading for Cubs starter Todd Gorzelanny, they may be closing in on a deal for reliever Todd Coffey, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman.
The 30-year old Coffey was with the Milwaukee Brewers last season, as well as the two seasons before that. He made 69 appearances out of the bullpen, compiling a 2-4 record and a 4.76 ERA. In 2009, he was much better, going 4-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 78 appearances. Coffey also spent time with the Cincinnati Reds, where he was not as successful.
Coffey would likely join a crew that includes Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Doug Slaten. It's not clear exactly how much money Coffey would receive with his new contract. For more on the signing, head over to Federal Baseball.
The Washington Nationals were looking to be headed to arbitration with three players: Michael Morse, Doug Slaten and newcomer Tom Gorzelanny. Now, that list is down to just Gorzelanny after the Nationals agreed to one-year contracts with both Morse and Slaten.
Morse will receive $1.05 million next season, with another $300,000 if he meets performance incentives that have to do with plate appearances. Slaten, meanwhile, will receive $695,000 in base salary, with the chance to earn an additional $17,500 in performance incentives.
Morse broke out last year as a part-time starter, hitting .289 with 15 home runs in 289 plate appearances, and projects to be a similar kind of player this season. Slaten was a key left-handed reliever for the team last year, with a 3.10 ERA in 49 appearances out of the bullpen. He, too, will be counted on in a similar fashion this season.
The Nationals are in desperate need of starting pitching. That help doesn't necessarily need to come from outside the organization. The Nats locked up John Lannan, who had proven to be one of their better pitchers over the last part of the season, with a one-year extension; which means they can avoid salary arbitration.
In 2010 Lanna went 8-8 with a 4.65 ERA. Many of those losses, as well as the runs that contributed to that high era, came in the first part of the season before the Nationals sent him down to the minors for a brief stint.
That trip seemed to help Lanna get back on track. Over the final two months of the season, Lannan went 6-3 with an ERA of just about 3.5. With the addition of Tom Gorzellany in a trade from the Cubs yesterday, Lanna gives the nationals two strong lefties in their starting rotation.
The Washington Nationals look like they have filled out their roster. They have reportedly signed veteran infielder Alex Cora to a minor league contract, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Cora becomes the likeliest candidate to back up Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Via Kilgore:
The move gives the Nationals a leading candidate for the final spot on their bench and provides potential insurance for rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa.
Cora's contract is for $900,000, with another $600,000 possible in performance incentives. Cora played in 66 games for the New York Mets last year before he was released. He originally came up in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system in 1998 and has played for five teams in his Major League career.
He is also a Scott Boras client, giving the Nationals nine players who are represented by Boras.
You can go ahead and cross another top tier starting pitcher off the Nationals wish list for this offseason. After some exploratory talks during the Winter Meetings, the trail on Carl Pavano has gone cold, and he will not be signing with Washington, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
The Nationals are out of the Carl Pavano sweepstakes, MLB.com has confirmed. Published reports have indicated that the right-hander is set to re-sign with the Twins.
"I'm not in any active talks with the Nationals," Pavano's agent, Tom O'Connell, said Thursday night.
Missing out on Pavano is probably a little bit of a gift as well as a curse for the Nationals. Sure, they don't get one of the top remaining free agents to help bolster their rotation, but they also don't have to give a big contract to someone who is well on the wrong side of 30 and has a spotty, at best, injury history.
There has been a lot of change in the Nationals organization this winter. Or maybe it just feels that way when you lose arguably your best player and sign somebody for over $120 million. Actually, many of the Nationals from last year will reprise their roles for this year's club, and the lineup won't look incredibly different. Maybe in order, but not in personnel.
Mark Zuckerman from Nats Insider has an idea of what the Nats should use as their lineup.
1. CF Nyjer Morgan
2. SS Ian Desmond
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. 1B Adam LaRoche
5. RF Jayson Werth
6. LF Roger Bernadina/Michael Morse/Rick Ankiel
7. 2B Danny Espinosa
8. C Ivan Rodriguez/Wilson Ramos/Jesus Flores
First of all, how was "upgrade the center field position so we don't have to watch Nyjer Morgan strikeout three times a game" not at the top of their postseason shopping list? I know they had holes to fill, but come on now. Any lineup with him at the head, if he plays like he did last year, could always use some improving.
As for the rest of it. Espinosa, Desmond and Bernadina should all be better than they were last year. Zimmerman is Zimmerman. And we know what we're getting from Pudge and the young catchers. It all comes down to Jayson Werth/Adam LaRoche vs. Adam Dunn/Josh Willingham.
Offensively, it's just about a wash but Dunn and Willingham might be a little bit better. But LaRoche/Werth get points because they are vast improvements in the field. Not a bad exchange if you ask me.
It's hard to know what kind of chance the Nationals have of signing Carl Pavano, one of the biggest names left on the free agent market. Reports have emerged that claim Washington and Minnesota are the two finalists for Pavano's services, but Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post isn't so sure. And if you listen to what Mike Rizzo has to say, it doesn't sound so promising.
Everybody knows the Nats have money to spend and, finally, want to spend it. When a player seeks leverage, his people hint that the Nats are the mystery team chasing him. As a result, the Nats "didn't get" Cliff Lee, even though they were just doing due diligence in inquiring about him. Soon, the Nats "won't get" Carl Pavano either. "I hear we are 'the finalist' along with the Twins," said Rizzo, acerbically. "We've never spoken to Pavano and we haven't talked to his agent since the winter meetings."
O. So all this hub-bub of the Nationals being the nix to sign Pavano, that was all just Pavano seeking leverage with the Twins? If you believe Boswell and Rizzo that is certainly what it sounds like. Bummer.
There is always the chance, however, that this is all a smoke screen on Rizzo's part and the team really is in negotiations, or at the very least contact, with the Pavano camp. We won't really know until the ink dries on his new contract if the Nationals have a legitimate chance at getting him.
Since the departure of slugger Adam Dunn, the biggest glaring hole in the Washington Nationals' roster has been at first base. According to Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider, the team has filled that hole today by signing free agent Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract.
The deal won't become official until LaRoche passes a physical, which is due to take place Thursday in Washington. Financial terms weren't immediately known, though LaRoche is expected to make at least $7 million per season.
LaRoche is 31-years old with a career batting average of .271. The Nationals will be the journeyman first baseman's sixh MLB club, but he hits 25 home runs just about every year, and his 100 RBIs for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010 was a career high.
LaRoche will have a hard time matching Dunn's offensive statistics, but one of the reasons that Washington allowed their big first baseman to part (besides money) was his liability on defense. LaRoche's .995 fielding percentage is a significant upgrade over Dunn's .987.
Once the Nationals let Adam Dunn go to the Chicago White Sox this summer, there was a tremendous hole left at first base. The Nationals, at least reportedly, are inching closer to filling that empty spot on their depth chart. According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the Nationals and free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche are still in discussions for a contract.
While there is apparently no timetable in place, LaRoche and the Nationals remain "in discussions," one team source said. The source requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing.
LaRoche seems to fit the description perfectly of what the Nationals are looking for in a first baseman. He is an above average defesive first baseman, and would provide some pop from the left side of the plate in a pretty righty-heavy lineup.
LaRoche had been in discussions with the Orioles before those talks broke down and they decided to go with Derrek Lee, another player the Nationals may have been targeting. As for his production.
Last season, LaRoche hit .261/.320/.468 (average/on-base/slugging) with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his eight-year career, mostly with the Braves and Pirates, LaRoche has hit .271/.339./488 with an average of 26 home runs and 93 RBIs per season.
Where do I sign up? Seems liek the perfect guy, of those who are left anyway, to take Adam Dunn's spot in the field and in the lineup. Let's hope this deal comes through.
One of the underrated keys to the Nationals' early strong start last year was the play of their bullpen. As such, the Nationals are doing what they can to lock in those players who succeeded there. According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the team has signed lefty Sean Burnett to a two-year contract extension.
Here are the details of his contract:
Burnett will make at least $3.7 million for two years - $1.4 million in 2011 (which includes a $100,000 signing bonus) and $2.3 million in 2012. The Nationals can exercise an option for 2013 worth $3.5 million. If the do not, they owe Burnett a $250,000 buyout. Burnett can opt out if the Nationals exercise the option, with the buyout waived if he does.
Burnett had a poor 1-7 record, but that obscured just how solid a pitcher he was last season. He had just a 2.14 ERA in 73 appearances, and struck out nearly nine batters per nine innings. At 27, it was the strongest season of his career, and well worth the small extension he received, especially when relievers are being paid far more than usual in recent years.
Burnett was acquired in the trade that sent Lastings Milledge to Pittsburgh for Nyjer Morgan. It looks like that trade has worked out well for the National.
Earlier this offseason, the Washington Nationals showed interest in Arizona Diamondback and Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. That interest has reportedly remained active as the Nationals are still in the hunt for a starting pitcher.
Via ESPN, Webb has receiving strong interest from the Nationals and Texas Rangers. There is a connection between the Nationals and Webb already; general manager Mike Rizzo was the scouting director in Arizona during Webb's most dominant seasons.
The Nationals have lost out on Cliff Lee and Zach Greinke this winter and are looking to find a solid ace to provide experience to a young rotation. Washington recently re-signed Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year contract.
With the trade of Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics, the Washington Nationals needed to find someone to help their shallow outfield. It looks like they've done just that, as they've signed Rick Ankiel to a one-year contract worth anywhere from $1.5 million to $2.75 million, depending on whether Ankiel meets some performance incentives. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman first reported the news, and Mark Zuckerman reports that the deal is done, pending a physical.
Ankiel is a 30-year-old outfielder that began his career as a pitching prodigy before control issues ruined things. He resurfaced as an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007, coming out of nowhere to be a productive player. However, that production has tailed off, as he hit just .232 with six home runs and 24 RBI in a 2010 season split between the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves.
Ankiel's biggest strength is his fielding, as he has a cannon arm that he's used to throw out players before. In that sense, he fits with general manager Mike Rizzo's vision of building a more defensive-oriented teams. It's not clear whether he'll be a reserve or whether he'll platoon with Roger Bernandina in left field.
The Milwaukee Brewers made a big splash yesterday, acquiring Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals for four prospects. Greinke was always a possibility for the Nationals, who desired a front-line starter for next season.
But Greinke had a no-trade clause to 15 teams, including the Nationals. He exercised that no-trade clause, killing a deal that the Royals and Nationals agreed on, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman.
#royals were close to deal w/ #nats. but greinke had right to reject trade to wash and told kc he wouldnt go. he approved crew, tho
greinke rejected #nats but accepted #brewers bec he believes milwaukee can win sooner, i hear. also said to like city
The reported deal, according to Heyman, involved Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and others going to Kansas City. The Nationals always wanted Greinke, but were unwilling to trade both Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann. It doesn't appear that either of those players were involved in the trade.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson has confirmed Heyman's report.
That Greinke felt the Brewers were closer to contention than the Nationals is understandable, yet frustrating. However, there's an argument to be made that gutting the farm system for anyone, even someone as talented as Greinke, is not a smart move. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post makes that case.
The Nationals have come a long way with their farm system. But, as owner Mark Lerner acknowledged this week, it is not yet at the point where they can afford to be swapping swaths of prospects for one impact major leaguer. If they gave away Zimmermann along with any two or three of Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Drew Storen or Roger Bernadia, the hole created would have been greater than the one filled. And the Nationals are not at the point where they have the depth in their farm system to replace that kind of trade from within.
Before the 2010 season, the Nationals signed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. He didn't pitch a single inning for the Nats last season after offseason shoulder surgery. With the Nationals' luck this winter, it looks like they are bringing Wang back.
Via Fanhouse, Wang is reportedly close to returning to Washington on a one-year deal. Terms are undisclosed, but it might be safe to say that the Nationals could get a discount on Wang's services considering the circumstances.
Wang hasn't had a full, productive season since 2007, when he won 19 games for the New York Yankees. In 2009, he had a 9.64 ERA for New York, who thought it might be in their best interest to part ways.
Regardless, Wang is a veteran presence for a rotation looking to rebound from injuries of its own. Jordan Zimmermann is battling back from Tommy John surgery and Stephen Strasburg could miss the entire year after having the same procedure.
The Nationals' offseason has been quite busy. Adam Dunn headed to Chicago to suit up for the White Sox, Jayson Werth was brought in to replace Dunn's power and Josh Willingham was traded to the Oakland Athletics. This happened all within the span of about two weeks.
Washington missed out on Cliff Lee (to no one's surprise), but are still looking for a solid pitcher to anchor a young rotation. One possibility is Kansas City Royals ace Zach Greinke. Or perhaps the better word is "was."
Via MLB Buzz, Greinke's no-trade clause allows him to block up to 15 teams. Reportedly, the Nationals are one of them. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are also on the list.
Possible destinations where Greinke could be traded without his permission are the Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers.
Perhaps the next option down the list is Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Garza. The Rays are eyeing Ian Desmond or Jordan Zimmermann in return, but the Nats are unwilling to part with their promising core. The plot thickens.
Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham has been traded to the Oakland Athletics for young reliever Henry Rodriguez and minor league outfielder Corey Brown. For more on the trade, visit our StoryStream on it here.
The Washington Nationals have stated a desire to improve their bench. They've done just that, inking journeyman Matt Stairs to a non-guaranteed minor league contract with a spring training invitation, according to the team.
The well-traveled Stairs will be 43 at the start of next season and has played for a record-tying 12 teams. If he makes the Nationals, he will officially become the biggest journeyman in MLB history. Stairs spent last season with the San Diego Padres, hitting .232 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 111 plate appearances as a pinch hitter. His best season was way back in 1999, when he hit 38 home runs as a member of the Oakland Athletics.
Stairs is the all-time leader in pinch-hit home runs, with 23. He can still certainly pop a ball out of the park, even at his advanced age. He was a key bench cog for the Padres last year as they went on their surprising run, both on the field and in the clubhouse. However, he's certainly not a solution to the team's first base vacancy.
With Cliff Lee off the table, there are a lot of teams that will shift their focus to the next best "available" pitcher, Kansas City's Zack Greinke, who is reportedly available to the highest bidder.
The Nationals, who are apparently not done making waves in the offseason, are "aggressively pursuing" a trade for Greinke, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The issue, however, is wether or not the team has enough chips that they are willing to part with to acquire him.
"Here's the problem they have: They're not going to trade Desmond," one major league source said. "He's a guy they think is going to be their shortstop for the next 10 years. That's a really tough guy for them [to trade]. It almost negates getting that pitcher. Same thing with Zimmermann. Everybody else [aside from Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth] is fair game. They're not going to move Desmond. They'd move [Danny] Espinosa in a heartbeat."
This is the problem with trying to get that front of the rotation starter through trade as opposed to just signing him outright through free agency. The Nationals have a lot of young prospects in the organization, but they might not want to part with them. Especially Desmond, apparently. If the Nationals are able to acquire Greinke, it will be at the expense of some of their young talent.
I guess that seals it. We had been speculating for a while (based on reliable information of course) that the Nationals were not going to be signing Cliff Lee. But now we can call it official, because Lee has a agreed to a five-year $120 million contract with the Phillies, the team that traded him away just about a year ago.
Lee turned down more money from the Yankees and the Rangers to join the Phillies, the team he went to the World Series with last year. The move will send shock waves throughout baseball. The Yankees and the Rangers must now scramble to find elite pitching, which likely means increased efforts to trade for Kansas City's Zack Greinke, the last really elite pitcher who is considered "available." Another option for those who missed out on Lee is Tampa Bay's Matt Garza.
We'll update the chase for Greinke, which the Nationals intend to be in on, as news becomes available.
The Washington Nationals had always been a darkhorse in the race for top free agent Cliff Lee, but they were self-described "longshots" due to their disinclination to offer a very long-term contract. Now, it appears they are out of the chase entirely, especially after multiple teams have offered Lee the seven-year deal he desired.
According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Nationals have exited the sweepstakes themselves.
The Nationals are out of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, a baseball source told MLB.com on Sunday night. No reason was given as to why the left-hander passed on Washington.
We can pretty much guess that the reason is because the Nationals didn't want to give him the contract he wanted. As Ladson writes, the Nationals weren't going to give Lee a seven-year contract, whereas the Rangers and Yankees have already shown a willingness to do that. It's not too hard to connect the dots here.
The Nationals will instead turn to long-range trade targets such as Kansas City's Zach Grienke and Tampa Bay's Matt Garza. It doesn't look like the Nationals will be willing to surrender both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, so it's unlikely a trade happens, but you never know.
The Rule 5 Draft is basically like an expansion draft in any other sport. It's purpose is to prevent teams from stockpiling major league ready talent in their minor league systems (thank you Wikipedia). Teams protect their biggest prospects, and the other teams then choose from the remaining players in their system. The one catch is that the player must remain on the major league roster, or they are returned to the team from which they were drafted. It's the unofficial end of Baseball's Winter Meetings.
The Nationals came out of this year's draft with arguably the most sought after prospect, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
The Nationals selected right-handed pitcher Elvin Ramirez from the New York Mets' Class AA affiliate with their first pick in the Rule 5 draft, a possible coup for a right-handed reliever who can hit 98 miles per hour with his fastball ... some expected he would be taken first overall in the Rule 5 draft once the Mets chose not to protect him.
The Nationals also took Brian Broderick from the Phillies, another right-handed relief pitcher. Both players must be on the Nationals major league roster, or they will no longer be part of the organization.
Any time you can pick up a player with a 100-mph fastball for basically nothing, it is a good thing for the organization. If Ramirez pans out, he could add a real power arm to what proved to be a pretty effective bullpen last year.
The dream might be over. The speculation that the Nationals might still be a contender to sign Cliff Lee, the biggest prize in free agency this season, may have officially ended.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the Yankees have made a seven year offer to Lee that the Nationals will not even attempt to match.
It's unknown if the Nationals even made an offer after twice meeting with Lee's agent twice at the winter meetings. But, unless the Nationals' mindset on Lee has drastically changed in the past two days, then the Yankees' seven-year offer knocks them. One Nationals source said they would offer Lee, 32, seven years "if hell freezes over."
Kilgore tracks the Lee saga all the way back to the Nationals signing Jayson Werth to a huge contract. He was the guy the Red Sox really wanted, so when they lost out on him, they had to sign Carl Crawford; and of course the Yankees had to respond. Apparently when Crawford agreed to join the Red Sox, it really put pressure on the Yankees to secure Lee, so they bumped their offer up to seven years. Which is something the Nats simply won't do.
With rumors swirling about the potential destination for Cliff Lee, it's worth noting that the Nationals did not meet with Lee's agent today. But there's a good reason for that: Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, left the Winter Meetings earlier today.
That Braunecker left the Dolphin Hotel at Walt Disney World could be interpreted as a good thing for the Nationals, who would have more time to woo Lee away from the Yankees or Rangers, the teams believed to be the favorites for Cliff Lee. Rizzo said on Tuesday he considers the Nationals "a real longshot" for Lee, and said on Wednesday that nothing has changed on that front. But team and industry sources have said the Nationals intend to make a real push for Lee, though they are cautious about being used for leverage, as they feel they were in 2008 when Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters the team has made an offer for Lee, something the Nationals do not appear to have done. That said, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn't concerned that he won't have another chance to meet with Lee's agent at the Winter Meetings. (Via Mark Zuckerman).
"I don't really know where he's at in regards to getting a deal done soon. It wouldn't surprise me if it went beyond the meetings."
In other news, Rizzo did say the team has spoken to Brandon Webb's representatives, and he seems interested in potentially bringing Webb aboard.
He's a guy that doesn't rely on power to get his outs. He's the consummate sinkerball guy. He throws a heavy ball. And when he was at his best, he throws 88-90. At one time, when we drafted him, he was at 94. He adjusted. He throttled down to get that movement on his sinker."
Rizzo also said the team is still interested in keeping Chien-Ming Wang and said the Nationals' first baseman next year is "likely to come from outside the organization," which corresponds with the team's reported interest in Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche.
One potential target for the Nationals' hole at first base got away earlier today when the Chicago Cubs signed Carlos Pena. However, another may soon be coming in, as the Nationals may be closing in on a deal for former Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Ed Price of Fanhouse is reporting that it "sounds like" LaRoche is going to reach an agreement with the Nationals. However, nothing is official yet, and no report has backed that up at this time. In fact, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that nothing is even imminent.
Am told Adam LaRoche to #Nats is not imminent, not at all a lock to happen.
Still, the Nationals' interest in LaRoche is no secret. The team needs a first baseman to fill in for the departed Adam Dunn, and their top target is off the market. In many ways, LaRoche may be a better fit anyway. Last season, LaRoche hit .261 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs, and is younger than Pena. Also, Pena hit below .200 last season. As SB Nation's Jon Bois notes, how does Pena get $10 million?
The Nationals let Adam Dunn walk away this winter, mostly because they wanted to replace him at first base with someone who would be a better defensive presence. Carlos Pena was thought to be one of the players who might fit the bill. He had been one of the Nats biggest targets throughout the offseason.Now, that option is off the table.
Carrie Muskat is reporting that Carlos Pena has signed a one-year $10 million contract with the Cubs, who were also looking for a left handed batting, defensive minded first baseman.
So that's kind of a bummer.
The only other option for the Nats who fits the bill is Adam LaRoche, who said earlier in the offseason that he would consider signing with the Nats if they showed that they were interested.
The Washington Nationals may be "longshots" to land Cliff Lee, but it's clear they are looking for starting pitching of any kind. One target they've identified is Carl Pavano, who had an excellent season with the Minnesota Twins last season. Pavano's agent said that he's met with the Nationals and considers them to be a possibility for his client.
The Nationals, while trying to land Cliff Lee, aren't wasting any time checking into other pitching options at the Winter Meetings. They met with Carl Pavano's agent, Tom O'Connell, on Tuesday and remain actively interested in the Twins right-hander.
"We met with Nationals officials today," O'Connell said. "It was a productive meeting, and Carl is methodically going through his options."
O'Connell reportedly said the Nationals are "in the mix" for Pavano, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Twins are also interested in bringing back Pavano, who emerged as a clubhouse leader for them as they made their run to the playoffs.
The 34-year old Pavano went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins last year, but that was his best season in many years. At his age, the Nationals might want to be careful about committing too much money to him.
For a team that claims they are a "longshot" to sign Cliff Lee, the Washington Nationals sure are getting plenty of chances to impress the guy. The team reportedly met with Lee's agent for a second time today, and rumors continued to swirl that they're preparing to offer him a big contract, according to Mark Zuckerman. However, it's not clear whether the team has not given Lee a former offer.
In a news conference with reporters, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the team are still "longshots" to land Lee. Via Ben Goessling of MASN.
"We've had dialog with the representative (Darek Braunecker)," Rizzo said. "I still think we're a real long shot to acquire the player."
Rizzo elaborated a bit more on his statement, via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
We're looking at a whole array of options in pitching and position players in filling our roles. It's hard to put a finger on, without telling you what we're doing. There's a whole bunch of things going on, and one domino is off the other, one interacts with the other. So there's a lot of moving parts.
This seems to back up the talk earlier that the Nationals' interest in Lee was overstated. As of right now, the Nationals are unwilling to offer Lee a seven-year contract, and despite the second meeting, that appears to still be the case.
UPDATE: Clarification made.
Well, that was fun while it lasted. Earlier today, there was some buzz that the Washington Nationals would make a "huge" move to sign top free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee. There were reports that they would be wiling to give Lee a seven-year contract. But as of right now, it looks like those reports were unfounded.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post talked to two Nationals sources who vehemently shot down the reports that Lee would get a seven-year contract.
"Not happening," one Nationals source said.
"Zero chance," said another.
Lee's agent did meet with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo yesterday, but Rizzo didn't offer any sort of contract, according to Kilgore. Honestly, it looks like the Lee buzz was coming from other teams speculating about the Nationals' intentions, rather than straight from the Nationals themselves.
It's too early to rule anything out, especially because the Nationals have made it very, very clear that they want to make more big splashes at the MLB Winter Meetings. As of right now, though, it's probably okay to cool it on the Cliff Lee talk, seeing as it'll likely take a seven-year contract to pry him away.
The Washington Nationals have already shocked the baseball world by stealing Jayson Werth away with a seven-year, $126 million contract, but they may not be done. They have reportedly remained extremely aggressive, and may end up making an even more shocking move with Cliff Lee, the top free agent on the market.
ESPN's Buster Olney reports that there's a sense among baseball executives that the Nationals may make a huge offer for Lee sometime in the next few days.
There is a growing speculation among rival agents and executives that the Washington Nationals are going to throw a HUGE number at Cliff Lee
This would truly be shocking. It's unclear what a "HUGE" number would be, but after the Werth deal, you never know. Lee is reportedly likely to get a seven-year contract from some team, though most are only willing to offer six years. If the Nationals are that mystery team (as SI's Jon Heyman reports), then you'd have to think Lee would cost more than the $126 million Werth got from the Nationals. Otherwise, are we talking about a contract for longer than seven years? It's kind of staggering to think about this.
We'll keep you posted on this rumor in this StoryStream. As of right now, though, all we know is that the Nationals met with Lee's agent yesterday and that Lee's agent, prior to that meeting, said the Nationals were "not eliminated" from the Lee sweepstakes.
You'd think that the Washington Nationals would not have enough room to hand out two mega-deals after giving Jayson Werth a $126 million contract on Sunday, but apparently, they're still a possibility for Cliff Lee, the top free-agent pitcher on the market. At least according to Lee's agent.
Darek Braunecker tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the Nationals are still in the running for his client, even after the move for Werth.
"They're not eliminated by any means," Darek Braunecker said in the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel at baseball's winter meetings. "Not on our part, anyway."
Braunecker says the Nationals have not scheduled another meeting with him yet, but he would be open to meet if they did, saying they have been staying in touch. Interestingly, he said the move for Werth actually helps the Nationals' chances.
"He and Jayson Werth are like best buddies," Braunecker said. "For what it's worth."
Braunecker is just doing his job, so don't interpret this as a sign that the Nationals are serious contenders. Then again, crazier things have happened. If the signing of Werth is what it takes for the Nationals to get the top free agents, then it makes the move much more defensible, even despite his massive salary.
When Adam Dunn bolted to the Chicago White Sox, the Washington Nationals were rumored to be in the mix to acquire several different players to replace him. One of those players is Adam LaRoche, the first baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. As it turns out, LaRoche may want to come to D.C. too.
In an interview with Bill Ladson of MLB.com, LaRoche said he would "definitely" have interest in playing for the Nationals "if we come on the same page." He added that he would begin having discussions with the team in the next few days.
LaRoche, like many players, was impressed with the team's decision to give Jayson Werth $126 million, saying it demonstrates a commitment to winning.
"I think it shows how serious the Nationals are about getting the organization back on track and becoming a contender in the National League East," LaRoche said. "They are probably tired of watching other teams [spend money and winning]. With the ballpark [Nationals Park] and a little money to spend, they are looking to start over."
LaRoche hit .261 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI for the Diamondbacks last season.
Scott Olsen came to the Washington Nationals with some promise after decent season with the Florida Marlins. But after a disastrous 2010 season, Olsen will be moving on to another team. The Pittsburgh Pirates have reached an agreement with Olsen, according to MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch. Olsen will receive a one-year, incentive-laden contract, according to the report.
The Pirates have tentatively agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden agreement with left-hander Scott Olsen, according to industry sources. The deal is contingent on Olsen passing a physical, which is expected to happen later this week.
An official announcement could come as early as Friday.
Reached by phone on Monday, Olsen's agent, Matt Sosnick, would not confirm that a deal had been reached.
Olsen was on the disabled list twice this season with shoulder issues, then was very bad once he returned. He was demoted to the bullpen, which he didn't appreciate, and wasn't much better there. The Pirates are in need of starting pitching and signing Olsen is a low-risk move for them. However, the fact that the Nationals, a team starved for pitching themselves, didn't need him should speak volumes about his ability right now.
The Nationals made a big free agent splash by signing Jayson Werth to a lengthy, and very hefty, seven-year $126 million contract. He figures to be a big part of their lineup, and one of the corner outfielders, for a few years to come. But what does that mean for one of their corner outfielders from last year, Josh Willingham, who had proved to be one of their most productive players when healthy?
According to Bill Ladson of WashingtonNationals.com, the team has placed Willingham on the trading block in hopes to upgrade another position of need before the 2011 season begins.
The Nationals would like to get something in return for Willingham, who becomes a free agent after the '11 season. Rizzo already announced that the team is going on a year-to-year basis with Willingham.
With Werth in the fold and Bryce Harper waiting in the wings, there isn't really a spot for Willingham in the Nationals future. So I guess it makes sense to trade him if they can get value in return. Ladson continues on to say something a little bit surprising.
Another source went so far as to say that every healthy player on the Nationals' roster, with the exception of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, are being considered for trade discussions.
The Nationals are serious about upgrading their roster and it appears that they would be willing to sacrifice some of the people currently on their roster to make it happen. But again, if it's a trade that puts them in the right direction, then I think it's a good move. We'll update Willingham's status as soon as more information becomes available.
The Nationals have signed Jayson Werth, arguably the most valuable position player available in free agency, to a seven-year $126 million contract. For more on the signing and what it means for the Nationals in 2011, check out this StoryStream.
The Chicago White Sox have reportedly signed Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56 million contract. For more, visit this StoryStream.
At the trade deadline last year, the Chicago White Sox were one of the teams that were showing very serious interest in acquiring Adam Dunn. They were prepared to offer the best (depending on who you ask) pitching prospect in their minor league organization, but the talks fell through when the Nationals asked for second baseman Gordon Beckham.
Now that the White Sox don't have to part with any prospects at all to get Adam Dunn into their lineup, they seem to be showing serious interest in signing him.
If Dunn goes to an AL team, of which the White Sox are, it means that he has likely wavered somewhat on his stance toward playing DH. He has said in the past that he would not want to go to a team that would use him primarily as a designated hitter, but that is probably where he would fit in with the White Sox and where the greatest market for him would be.
It's looking less and less likely that Adam Dunn is going to return to the Washington Nationals. Despite his misgivings about being a designated hitter, Dunn reportedly met with the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, according to Susan Slater of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Chronicle learned this morning that the A's met with Adam Dunn in Houston yesterday, and according to an industry source, Oakland is considered a serious candidate to land a deal with the 31-year-old slugger.
Dunn seems to be a good fit for Oakland because the Athletics desperately need power hitting. They finished second-to-last in the American League in home runs last year. The issue is price. Dunn is likely to command over $60 million for the next four seasons, and that may be too much for Oakland. The Athletics are also considering Lance Berkman, who would arrive on a shorter-term contract.
Dunn would likely sign with the Athletics only if they gave him assurances that he would occasionally play in the field, either at first base or in the outfield.
The game of "Where In The World Will Adam Dunn End Up?" got more interesting Tuesday, when according to Mark Zuckerman, the slugger declined the Nationals' arbitration offer.
Dunn made his decision right before the end of the November 30 deadline. The Nationals' offer guarantees that they will receive draft-pick compensation if Dunn decides to sign elsewhere. The Nationals are preaching a defense-first approach, which isn't Dunn's strong point. Dunn, who hit .260 with 38 home runs and 103 RBIs, has been courted by mostly American League teams, where he would be used as a designated hitter.
According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, Dunn is looking for a contract for at least four years and $60 million. Both Chicago franchises, the Cubs and White Sox, are both reportedly interested.
If you go strictly by the numbers, Adam Dunn might just be the most productive hitter on the free agent market this offseason. At the trade deadline there were a number of teams that wanted to trade for Dunn, but as the winter meetings approach, there isn't much interest out there to sign him as a free agent. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports thinks that is because Dunn doesn't want to be a DH, which eliminates half of the potential suitors.
Maybe Dunn needs to play first base in order to find true contentment at the ballpark. In that case, more power to him. But does he feel strongly enough that he would take millions less for the simple pleasure of wearing a glove every day? I doubt it.
I doubt it too. This is the type of thing that might drag out for a while over the Winter months while those representing Dunn try to convince him that he can make soooo much more money as a DH, which is true. Adam Dunn's defense at first base is the reason why the Nats are thinking about replacing him at first. Just because Dunn really wants to play first base, doesn't mean there is a team that will pay him the amount of money he is seeking to do so.
Adam Dunn is a very good hitter. He is not a very good fielder. Luckily for him, there is a position that allows him to just play offense and not have to be exposed as a below average fielder. It means considerably less playing time, but it also means that more teams will be interested in signing him, likely raising his price tag. I think that if he is unsigned in a few months, he'll realize that signing with an AL team to be a full time hitter is the best route. Or maybe he'll just rejoin the Nationals, wouldn't that be awesome?
We mentioned earlier today that the Nationals had until today to offer Adam Dunn salary arbitration, according to Ben Goessling, that is exactly what they decided to do.
Offering Dunn arbitration is very important because it means that the Nationals will receive two first-round draft picks as compensation should Dunn elect to sign with another team in free agency. If Dunn chooses to accept arbitration, then a arbiter will decide how much the Nats will pay him. There is always the option of course that the Nationals can sign Dunn to an extension outright and avoid this whole mess, but that is seeming less likely as the days go by.
Expect Dunn to sign some time around Dec. 6, when baseball's winter meetings go down and the agents get to meet with almost every team at once. That's when a lot of the premier free agents will start to fly off the board.
Today is the deadline for the Nationals to offer Adam Dunn salary arbitration, according to Ben Goessling at MASN.
Arbitration is an important part of the free agency process that ensures that if Adam Dunn elects to sign with a different team this winter, the Nationals will receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. if Adam Dunn elects to sign with the Nationals, then an arbiter will determine the value of his upcoming contract. It's a pretty complicated and seemingly unnecessary part of free agency, but for the Nationals and Adam Dunn, it's one of the biggest days of the offseason.
The two first-round draft picks are important because it seems like it will be the only thing that the Nationals will get in exchange for Adam Dunn, who was one of the hottest commodities at the MLB trade deadline last year. Lots of fans and members of the media alike felt that the Nationals should move Dunn just because they needed to get value for a player that that was probably going to leave in free agency anyway. Now it looks like the Nationals didn't capitalize on a good opportunity to add young talent. But hey, at least they got the draft picks, right?
I'm not sure this is the front of the rotation starter that fans might have envisioned heading into the offseason, but the Nats are apparently one of the front runners for a pitcher who had a lot of success last year.
According to Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk, the Nationals and the Brewers are in the lead to sign former Twin Carl Pavano.
After a disastrous four years with the Yankees, Pavano has somewhat resurrected his career over the past two years with the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins. Last year, Pavano was an innings horse for the Twins. He went 17-11 with a 3.75 era over 221 innings, including seven complete games.
Pavano is 34 years old, so he isn't really a "part of the future" type guy. But he can be a good step for the Nats over the next few years and hold down the fort until the chosen one returns.
The Nationals will be pursuing Cliff Lee in the offseason. That is a fact. Whether or not they have a legitimate shot at signing the biggest available prize or if they are just doing so to entertain the fans and themselves, remains to be seen. But I don't really think that Cliff Lee will be walking through that door.
But the Nationals still want to sign a top of the rotation starter, as they have been saying for a while now. Ben Goessling at MASN Sports lays out some other options for
when if the Nationals come up short on Lee.
Those options would include 29-year-old Colorado left-hander Jorge de la Rosa, 34-year-old Minnesota righty Carl Pavano and 34-year-old Yankees righty Javier Vazquez.
Uninspiring names all, but they are still better than what the Nationals have on their roster currently.
Of the three, I think Jorge de la Rosa is the most attractive. Pavano and Vazquez are both getting up there in age, and de la Rosa would add a left handed element to the rotation that the Nats have been lacking. Pavano pitched pretty well for the Twins last year, but who knows if he can stay fully recovered from the injuries that plagued him during his time with the Yankees. Vazquez was an absolute disaster with the Yankees last year, but a return to the National League might be good for him. Could be a good buy low situation.
Josh Willingham has become somewhat of a forgotten man on the Nationals. Everyone wants to talk about Adam Dunn's pending free agency, the potential courtship of Cliff Lee in the offseason and Stephen Strasburg's elbow is never too far off people's minds. When Willingham was out there, he was one of the best players in the National League, and he's only under contract for one more year.
If he had things his way, he would stay with the Nationals and sign a new contract extension. But according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the Nats aren't likely to give him a contract extension this offseason.
"I think we're going to take him one year at a time, like we've been doing," Rizzo said. "That's the short answer. But things are fluid, and they could always change. We'll see what the season brings us."
That doesn't sound too promising. But that also makes sense for a player that is coming off a knee injury. It's smart to wait and see how the knee reacts when he tries to play. There has been nothing that indicates Willingham will be unable to return to his previous level, but it's always better to wait and see.
For the last few months, the Washington Nationals didn't appear to be all that interested in hanging on to Adam Dunn. Sure, they said they were talking to his agent, but they were also hyping up the need to get better defensively. In the end, it looks like it may cost them Dunn.
According to two prominent baseball writers -- Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman and the New York Post's Joel Sherman -- the Detroit Tigers are getting close to agreeing to a contract with Dunn. Heyman reports that talks between the Tigers and Dunn "appear serious," while Sherman reports that Dunn is "moving closer" to a deal, maybe to Detroit. It remains unclear just how much money the Tigers are offering Dunn. It's also interesting because Dunn has previously been unwilling to go be a designated hitter for an American League team.
The White Sox have also met with Dunn's agent. Meanwhile, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the team is keeping its options open at first base, making it sound like they have moved on.
Dunn hit 38 home runs and had 103 runs batted in last season in the middle of the Nationals' lineup.
Free Agency is very nearly among us, and Adam Dunn remains the biggest story of the offseason so far. According to Bruce Levine of ESPN, the White Sox, one of the teams that was rumored to be interested in trading for Adam Dunn before last July's trade deadline.
White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams reportedly met with Adam Dunn's agent to discuss what the free agent is expecting this season, as negotiations are not yet permitted.
Numerous teams, including Washington where Dunn spent the past two seasons, are interested in the left-handed slugger.
One major league general manager told ESPNChicago.com that the starting point for Dunn will be a three-year, $40-million deal.
It's no surprise that the Chi Sox are interested in Dunn. Manny Ramirez, the consolation prize they acquired when they couldn't get Dunn at the deadline, failed to impress.The Nationals are still interested in Dunn, but are also looking at other candidates to fill in a first base, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
"We've talked internally about what our options are," General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "We've mapped out our strategy on players that we're going to be aggressive and go after. We're starting the implementing of the process.
"We're keeping all of our options open. Adam, he's opted to include himself in the free agent market. We certainly have to look at not only Adam, but other avenues also."
Some options include Carlos Pena, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, or even moving some of their outfield players to first. Whatever they choose to do, it will be with the hopes that they have improved their defense at the position. But all of their options will struggle to replace Dunn's bat.
At the end of the 2010 season, the Nationals were trying hard to market their promising new middle infield duo of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Both came on strong at the end of the year, and both are young players.
Well, so much for that - sort of. According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the Nationals are among several teams that have expressed interest in trading for Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla.
The Marlins are looking to move Uggla because they do not want to pay him a new contract, and are not asking for much in return. The Blue Jays, Tigers and Braves are believed to also be interested, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
Uggla is certainly an excellent player. He hit .287 with 33 home runs and 105 RBIs last year, with an on-base percentage of .369. But it's interesting that the Nationals are looking to trade for him considering the status of their young middle infield.
There are people all over D.C. that want the Nationals to bring Adam Dunn back into the fold through free agency. Like, all the people who saw the Nats squander a chance to get some value back for him through a trade at the deadline, and all the people who have seen him knock mammoth shots out of Nationals Park over the last two years. According to Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider, you can add Ryan Zimmerman to that list.
"You can get a guy who might have a great season, or he might hit 15 home runs and drive in 60," he said. "The thing you know with Adam is, he's going to hit close to 40 home runs, he's going to drive in close to 100 runs. He's been like that the last seven years. The hardest thing to find in baseball is a consistent player. And I think when you have one, and you have one here, it's kind of hard to believe you can't retain him."
To which Mike Rizzo would say (at least after Dunn signs somewhere else for more money then the Nationals are willing to give him) his defense is just too bad to justify the offensive output. I happen to agree with Zim. 100 RBI and 40 home runs is not easy to find in the open market. But I also understand that Dunn's defense at first costs the team a lot of runs the other way.
It's a tough situation for management to work through. We'll see hoe they decide to proceed.
The Washington Nationals have made no secrets about their desire to make a big splash in free agency. Despite not having Stephen Strasburg for all of next year, many within the organization seem to believe the team has the capacity to make a big move this summer. The big fish on the market is Texas Rangers star pitcher Cliff Lee, and as we already know, the Nationals will indeed have "an audience" with him.
Today, we learned that the Nationals have begun those discussions. In an appearance on MLB Network's "Power Alley" show with Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy on Sirius Satellite Radio, Rizzo said that the Nationals have "begun discussions" with Lee's agent to possibly sign the lefthander to a contract.
However, later on, Rizzo also reiterated this:
"I'm not going to put all my eggs in the Cliff Lee basket ... the chances of Cliff wanting to come to the Nationals ... is small."
Rizzo also said the team "continues to have communication" with Adam Dunn, and that they like him very much. However, he also talked a lot about the importance of defense, and said Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, a free agent the team has long been rumored to want, is "one of a handful of guys" that gives the team what they want.
The Washington Nationals and General Manager Mike Rizzo wanted to "make a splash" this offseason and get some veteran talent and experience to juxtapose the team's young core. Via MLB.com, the Nationals are not only attempting to make a splash, but to drain all of the water in the pool.
Left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee, the biggest free agent on the market this offseason, will give the Nationals a chance to make their case. A "baseball source familiar with Lee and the Nationals" says that the Nats are a team that Lee has to learn more about.
Rizzo said that the Nationals "No. 1 priority" is to attain a "front-of-the-rotation guy to put everybody in their proper places in the rotation." Lee has pitched in the last two World Series, this season for the Texas Rangers and last season for the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee came up short both times. Lee has also pitched for the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians in recent years. Lee is 102-61 with a 3.85 ERA in his nine-year career.
The Washington Nationals are expected to add a starting pitcher this summer. The big fish is Cliff Lee, and the Nationals are reportedly at least in the picture for him. But it's more likely they get someone for less money that is a low-risk option.
One potential guy is Brandon Webb, the former Cy Young winner for the Arizona Diamondbacks that has not played in nearly two years. According to a report by Adam Kilgore in the Washington Post, the Nationals will be one of the teams that will make a pitch to Webb.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo drafted Webb in 2000 while serving as Arizona's scouting director, and the two have remained friendly over the years. In part because of their past together and their relationship, the Nationals and Webb could be a natural fit.
There will be "a lot of interest in both sides," the source said. "The Nationals and Webb will definitely be in play, in conversation."
This sounds eerily reminiscent to Rizzo's decision to sign Chien-Ming Wang last year, a decision that didn't work out because Wang wasn't able to come back from injury. However, Kilgore reports that Webb is closer to full strength now than Wang was at this time last year.
The offseason and free agency period isn't just about adding players, sometimes it's about losing them too. The Nationals have chosen to let go of one of their relief pitchers, according to Nats Town News.
Walker appeared in 24 games last year, his first with the Nationals. In 35.1 innings he had 30 strikeouts and only eight walks while compiling a 3.57 era.
He hadn't pitched for the Nationals since he went on the long term DL with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. After he went out, the Nationals bullpen really came together as a unit and finished as one of the bright spots of the ball club. Walker simply lost his spot while he was on the DL to players who were younger and fit better in the team's long term plans.
No word yet on if the Nationals plan to replace him, or if they are happy with the bullpen they have already assembled.
Cliff Lee is the best player available in free agency this year. He's an unquestioned front of the rotation starter and among the best pitchers in baseball. The Nationals are looking for a guy who can fill that void in their rotation. Maybe you see where I'm going with this ...
For a while now we've heard that the Nationals will try to pry Cliff Lee away from the Rangers and Yankees of the world and there haven't been any reports to dispute that fact. Now ESPN's Jerry Crasnick adds fuel to the fire, saying that the Nationals, "want to make a splash.
The Nationals are looking for a top-end veteran starter, and Lee would help sell some tickets and fill the enthusiasm void in Washington while Stephen Strasburg recovers from Tommy John surgery.
This is all eerily reminiscent of when the Nationals tried their darnedest to sign Mark Texiera two years ago. Nobody could accuse them of not making a very serious effort to sign him, but in the end their efforts fell short. But on the bright side, their consolation prize that year was Adam Dunn, so maybe we're headed for something like that.I don't expect them to get Cliff Lee, but I do expect them to make a serious run at him.
Crasnick also reports that there are other pitching options available to the Nationals through trade, but that they would likely have to part with Danny Espinosa or Ian Desmond to get it done; which is something they might be hesitant to do.
All throughout the year, the Nationals didn't really figure out how to use Adam Kennedy. Not that Adam Kennedy was essential enough to move your team around to fit him in, but on several occasions, manager Jim Riggleman said he regretted not figuring out a way to get Kennedy in the lineup anymore.
Well, now he won't have that problem anymore. According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the Nationals have declined Kennedy's team option, making him a free agent.
I just learned the #Nats declined Adam Kennedy's option. He is now a free agent.
Kennedy batted just .249 with three home runs and 31 RBIs in 389 plate appearances, though he did manage to steal 14 bases. It's tough to see him receiving too many suitors at age 34, but you never know. The Nationals were his fourth team, and unless he goes back to Anaheim, Oakland or St. Louis, he will be joining his fifth roster next season.
The Nationals are standing on the verge of an offseason that will go a long way in defining the future of their franchise. They have an opportunity to build on some of the flashes they showed last season, and continue on their path towards contending in the N.L. East.
There are two major storylines to follow as the team heads towards the free agency period; How will they handle the Adam Dunn situation? And, will they find the front of the rotation starting pitcher that they have said they are looking for? John Heyman of Sports Illustrated has updates on both fronts in his free agency preview.
We'll talk about the pitching first, particularly the biggest prize of the free agency period, Cliff Lee. Heyman predicts that Lee will ultimately follow the money train to New York an join the Yankees, but lists the Nationals among a list of potential suitors. I'm not sure it would even be considered a consolation prize, but if the Nationals really do put in a bid that at least forces Lee to pause, it has to be seen as a small victory. This team has shown in the past that they don't really want to spend a lot of money, so if they pursue the biggest free agent on the market and make a serious run at him, hopefulyl it is a positive sign of things to come.
Heyman also touches on Adam Dunn's potential landing spot, and it's starting to become more and more evident that he won't be playing in Washington next year.
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