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Exploring all options

Nov 17, 2010, 3:22 PM EST

Baseball's GM meetings opened yesterday in Orlando with a flurry of activity. The Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn, then signed catcher John Buck to a three-year contract. The Cardinals re-signed Jake Westbrook to a two-year deal. The Mets conducted a second round of interviews with managerial candidates. GMs held formal discussions about adding an extra wild-card team from each league to the 2012 postseason.

And the Nationals … well, Mike Rizzo was there, talking to plenty of agents, fellow GMs and reporters about a number of topics. No actual moves were made, but this was only day one of the unofficial beginning of the Hot Stove League. Let's not just assume the Nats are sitting this winter out because they haven't done anything yet.

Indeed, all the evidence to date suggests Rizzo will be quite busy this offseason. The Nationals have been linked to just about every prominent name on either the free agent or trade market so far if you believe every rumor that's been published. You probably shouldn't, because the plausibility of the Nats being in serious contention for every prominent available player is low. If they actually acquired every guy they "have interest in" they'd wind up with a $250 million payroll and an 12-man starting rotation.

What you should take from all this is that the Nationals legitimately are exploring every possible option out there. They want to re-sign Adam Dunn, but they're also talking to Carlos Pena, Paul Konerko and other first basemen. They want to add a front-line starter but theyRead more »

  1. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    JayB rant in 3… 2… 1…

  2. raymitten - Nov 17, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    I wonder if there is any thought in bringing in David Eckstein to use as a bench player. I haven't seen his name liked to the Nats but it may not be a bad idea. He could fill in at short and second, and mentor Desi and Espinosa. If they re-sign Dunn, I will be happy with the off-season, no matter what else happens.

  3. Anonymous8 - Nov 17, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said…They want to overhaul what was one of baseball's worst benches in 2010,Besides the Opening Day 2010 issue in RF, the bench was just plain horrible. I still wonder what 2010 would have been like if Riggleman had a legit bench. Probably 2 to 3 more wins since most of those guys had big Negative WARs.So if Rizzo re-signs Dunn and improves the bench and nothing else, this 2011 team should win over 70 games.The big push for this team is not to settle on mediocrity in Free Agency. Unless you get Cliff Lee, I just don't see any "ACES" left on that list. Yes, "has been" aces yes, but Lee is the man!Carl Crawford is also legit and can play LF and move Willingham to RF. The other glaring hole to me on this 2011 roster is CF and solidifying the leadoff. Rizzo has a lot of work ahead of him.

  4. SpashCity - Nov 17, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I'm not counting on Rizzo trading any position players expected to contribute to the Nats in 2011. Therefore, the lineup should look something like this:Morgan – CFDesmond – SSZimmerman – 3BFirst BasemanWillingham – LFMorse/Bernadina – RFPudge/Ramos/Flores – CEspinosa – 2BPitcherI hope Dunn is the first baseman. I really think Rizzo nailed his value and nobody will give Dunn the 4th year that he wants, and hopefully, all else being equal Dunn will return to the Nats.I think Flores will start the year in AAA and if/when Pudge gets hurt or traded, he will get called up to split time with Ramos.The rotation looks like this:Free Agent AceHernandezLannanMarquisZimmermanMaya, Detwiler, Martin, Martis, etc. start in the minors and get called up based their success or the major league guys' lack thereof.The bullpen is pretty well set with Storen, Clippard, Burnett, Slaten, Peralta, Stammen and Batista.

  5. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Spash, you seem to have it all figured out. Detwiler should be the key lefty in the bullpen and I think if Flores is healthy in Spring Training and can contribute at 1st base and outfield he can be a great addition to the bench.

  6. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    Maya is having an exceptional winter. Look for him to be close to the top of that rotation. I think he will beat out Marquis, Zimmermann, Detwiler, Lannan and Livan. I expect him to land as the #2 / #3 starter.Remember, in the end Lannan, Marquis and Hernandez all do the same job: they are all innings eaters. Its up to Zimmermann and Detwiler to prove they can be top of the rotation types. However, I do suspect that we will see Detwiler involved in a trade. Zimmermann could as well but only for a true top of the rotation ace, a player similar Matt Cain or Zack Grienke.

  7. Paul - Nov 17, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    I just hope that the Nats won't succumb to the pressure to "just do something" and get saddled with an awful contract. I like Dunn, and I would love to see him back here, but under the right conditions. Do any of you think that the Nats might sign Pena to a 1 year incentive deal so he can reestablish himself (like Red Sox and Beltre) or sign a second (third?) tier guy like Derrick Lee and then convert Derrick Norris to 1B? It seems to me that Norris' OBP and power potential are there, but he lacks in defense. If Ramos claims that job (I believe I read he is the most advanced in defense and play calling – other than Pudge), it will leave two guy stuck on the depth chart.

  8. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Nov 17, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    Just say no to Pena, Lee, Konerko et al to be a FA signing 1B. Re-sign Dunn. He's 38-100 guaranteed, and not the complete liability with the glove that everyone here seems to believe he is. Use Morse as late-inning defensive replacement and sign Jeff Francoeur as FA right-field defensive caddy and PH. We could do worse. We have done worse. Don't forget, this team start 2010 with Willy Taveres as its starting RF. With Willie Harris as the RH-hitting platoon. That gave me the Willies, all right.

  9. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Morse hit 15 home runs in 266 at bats. He came close to finishing with a .300 BA? He is not a late inning replacement. I suspect you might even see him as the first bagger if they are somehow able to obtain a big masher for right or left fields.

  10. Doc - Nov 17, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    Morse continues to 'not get any respect'. One company sports writer even says that he can't hit front line pitching.Maybe this embecile hasn't noticed that some Nats can't even hit second and third line pitching.When he hits 30 HRs for some other team, maybe some people will get the picture.

  11. Joneric - Nov 17, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    How many of you questioning Norris' defense have actually seen him play, and beyond that, play healthy? His defensive progress was significant in 2010, and numbers compare favorably to ML catchers. He is just 21, focussed and hardworking. Numbers will continue to improve defensively. Plate discipline is amazing, more so when age is factored in. Attitude is definitely that of a catcher.

  12. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 7:06 PM

    We needed a CF….Rizzo let DeJesus go to the A's without a whimper. We needed a big bat to replace Dunn (he is as good as gone) and he let Uggla slip by to a division rival for a song and dance. We need a #1 or #2 pitcher, will he let Greinke slip away too??? Teams that want to make moves are making thenm sooner rather than later, I know traditionally this is not the case but I think the talent pool is so shallow that you have to S or get off the pot and I think Rizzo may be asked to get of the pot soon.

  13. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    dunn is talking to the tigers. tigers have first unprotected pick in the draft. this plays right into rizzo's hand.i want adrian gonzalez, greinke, and harper starting opening day lineup 2012.-longterm

  14. swang - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    Those of you that thinks Cliff Lee is even close to signing in DC has been smoking something good. Why in the world would he come here?

  15. Paul - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    @JonericI have never seen Norris, I am just basing my judgement on what I read (presumably written by people who could make a much better judgement than myself.) And from what I read, Ramos is the most advanced by far.Anyway, between Ramos, Norris, and Flores, only one can be the starting catcher in 2012 or 2013. What would you do with the other two, presuming none of them flame out?

  16. Steve M. - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    swang, there is only one way Cliff Lee comes to DC and that is a contract so much larger than the Yankees that he can't refuse.I don't think it will happen either but one of these days I would like to be pleasantly surprised.

  17. Mark L - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Unless Rizzo re-signs Dunn, his winter will be a failure. He's already saying Zimmeman's opinion doesn't matter — he's sounding more and more like Chicago Bulls management in the 90's when they were saying players don't matter, management does!And then they were unwatchable for 10 years.

  18. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    SpashCity said… The rotation looks like this:Free Agent AceHernandezLannanMarquisZimmermanMaya, Detwiler, Martin, Martis, etc. start in the minors and get called up based their success or the major league guys' lack thereof."I JUST THREW UP IN MY MOUTH A LITTLE"

  19. Steve M. - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    If Dunn doesn't get something going with the Tigers he is running out of options. The Cubs are no longer pursuing Dunn from what I heard and the Tigers will want Dunn to DH although they probably aren't telling him that.Personally I think it is a mistake for Dunn to chance being a DH as that seems to taint so many careers. Some may laugh but about 4 seasons from now Dunn will join the exclusive 500 HR Club and prior to the steroid mess, every member before McGwire in the 500 HR Club is a Hall of Famer.When a player like an Edgar Martinez who had a career Batting Average of .312 and was a 7 time All Star didn't become a DH full-time until he was 32 and the stigma that carries in baseball is huge as many today consider him a DH which is almost taints you as a player. Will he be inducted into the HOF?I think Dunn was right to stay in the NL as long as he can so he won't be thought of in 15 years as a DH. Jim Thome became a full time DH at 35 years old.http://bleacherreport.com/articles/111120-edgar-martinez-a-call-for-induction

  20. Steveospeak - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    I know there is a lot of love for Morse on here, but we need to be realistic here. His numbers were well above anything he had ever done in the minors or been projected to in the majors. There are plenty of guys around the league who had one flukey year that they preformed well above their tools/talent. Look at Garrett Jones in Pittsburgh last year, or when Chris Davis was called up with the Rangers (and he was a legit prospect). I'm not saying you give up on Morse or discount him completely, just that the Nats need to have a young guy waiting in the wings, if they plan on counting on Morse for a starting role. If Morse continues to hit fantastic, but if you are really counting on him to be your RF/1B and get 600 at bats this season, you are likely in for a major disappointment.

  21. N. Cognito - Nov 17, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    swang said… "Those of you that thinks Cliff Lee is even close to signing in DC has been smoking something good. Why in the world would he come here?"The other cities don't have Mark Zuckerman.

  22. Steve M. - Nov 17, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    Chase Lambin signed with the Twins organization. They seem to like ex-Nats.Maybe it is their appreciation for Bowden taking Cristian Guzman many years ago ;-)

  23. Mark L - Nov 17, 2010 at 9:06 PM

    N. Cognito — Touche`

  24. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 17, 2010 at 9:08 PM

    N. Cognito said…swang said…"Those of you that thinks Cliff Lee is even close to signing in DC has been smoking something good. Why in the world would he come here?"The other cities don't have Mark Zuckerman.While I appreciate the sentiment, according to whitepages.com, there are 73 other Mark Zuckermans out there, including in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Boston, New York and Philadelphia.So I wouldn't pin my hopes on signing Cliff Lee to that.

  25. Tcostant - Nov 17, 2010 at 9:13 PM

    I posted this excellent link from Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci discuss a lot of player the Nationals play for. We love to get Cliff Lee, but everyone needs to realize that won’t happen unless they overpay by $20M. Read this, these are realistic expectations:http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/tom_verducci/11/16/non.tender.free.agents/index.html

  26. Raff - Nov 17, 2010 at 9:51 PM

    If the Nationals get David Eckstein AND Jeff Francoeur (as two earlier commenters suggested), I think they will have done the one thing possible to make their team WORSE.Mr. Scrappy McScrappypants's OPS in 2010 was LOWER THAN ADAM KENNEDY's. Although perhaps we should add a few points to his whopping .647 to account for his scrappiness.And Frenchy's OPS is lower than Nyjer Morgan's has been with the Nats. Hell, if we're looking to hop on the RF crazy train, let's just bring back Ryan Church — another guy with a higher OPS than Frenchy AND the Nat with the best d*mn at-bat music in team history!Hell, why not just forget about Espinosa (80 points higher than Scrappypants) and Morse (early 200 points higher than Frenchy), and go all in for Derek Jeter, so we can have the Holy Trinity of Craptitude. (OK, Jeter's not crap, but his WAR was about equal to Desmond's…at only $20 million more!)(Composes himself.) OK, sorry about the rant, but Eckstein and Francoeur are the two most inexplicably overrated guys in baseball today.

  27. Matt - Nov 17, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Totally off topic, but I ran into an interesting article on FanGraphs which is worth having a look at. They rank teams by the number of players with negative WAR and total number of negative WAR. The Nats actually perform pretty well – much better than most last-placed teams. I think the bright side is that this means Rizzo's philosophy about options is working well, and the Nats are able to avoid playing bad players. On the other hand, given their record this means there must be a whole lot of near-replacement level players on the Nats.http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/negative-war-2010-team-data/

  28. raymitten - Nov 17, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Re: the Eckstein rant, I was suggesting him as a bench player to replace what Guzman did last year, not to play in place of Espy or Desi. I think what Eckstein would bring in mentoring skill would be far above what they could've gotten out of Wimpy Adam Kennedy or the other options identified by Bill Ladson.

  29. Pay Me Now - Nov 17, 2010 at 10:19 PM

    Raff, thank you! We don't need World Series MVPs who are on the other side of their career or journeymen looking for a free ride and a fat paycheck like Adam Kennedy unless they serve in a bench and mentoring role at near league minimums with incentives.The payroll dictates that there is plenty of cash to re-sign Dunn and still spend $2 million on making a great bench with $5 to $7 million left over just to keep payroll at the 2010 level of $66 million which is dependent on how arbitration goes. If the team raises payroll to $72 million then Rizzo can get Dunn, improve the bench, and get a #2 starter although I expect Brandon Webb to be Rizzo's grab for greatness!

  30. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    What is WAR? Man, you guys who know all this jargon are cool!!

  31. Doc - Nov 17, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    @ Raff: Thanks, I have never bothered to check the skinny on Frenchy. I have often wondered why the Braves traded him to the Mets for Church, and why the Mets never really used him.He seems to do well in the field, and has a good arm. An OPS less than Morgan—-Jeezus, that's low! GOOOOOOOOOOO Michael Morse!

  32. Raff - Nov 17, 2010 at 10:36 PM

    Sadly, Scrappers CAN'T replace what Guzman did last year: Guzzy gave us .687 OPS before being dumped off on Texas. The Scraptaculous One hasn't put up those kind of OPS numbers in 2 and 1/2 years! Unfortunately for D-Scraps, the "other side of his career" began in his 3rd major-league season: 2002, his 2nd year in MLB, was the one and only time he was not worse than your average major leaguer (boasting a hefty OPS+ of … 101).But I'm sure he would be a great mentor in the field of scraposity.

  33. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2010 at 10:51 PM

    as long as Riggleman's managing, Dunn, Morse, Konerko, whoever, will lose a lot of late inning at bats to some .206 hitting journeymanthe Lerners aren't willing to pay for a qualified GM or manager, and I think we'll be lucky to see 69 wins again in 2011

  34. slopitchtom - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Shawn Hill was released by the Jays and just cleared waivers. Maybe the Nats should give him a spring training invite. He actually pitched decent for the Jays at the end of the year.

  35. sec3mycell - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    I could be wrong, but I got the impression Hill wasn't happy with how the FO left things w/him.

  36. Anonymous - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    "Shawn Hill was released by the Jays and just cleared waivers. Maybe the Nats should give him a spring training invite"The curse of low expectations plagues this fanbase. This team can't keep its starters healthy, the last thing it needs is 7 starts from Shawn Hill before he returns to the DL.

  37. Anonymous8 - Nov 18, 2010 at 2:40 AM

    EXPLORING ALL OPTIONS:http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/11/six-or-eight-teams-have-spoken-to-pavano.htmlInteresting that Pavano is being discussed. I checked comparisons to Jake Westbrook who is a $8.5 million a year guy and he falls below Ted Lilly who is a $13 million a year guy.Pavano throws in the low 90's and was a 220+ inning guy last year for the Twins.I guess it would take somewhere in excess of Westbrook's deal with the Cardinals and less than Lilly.This could be a guy that would fit in well for a short term contract.

  38. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Nov 18, 2010 at 4:22 AM

    @Anonymous 8:41 p.m.: You actually think we could get seven starts out of Shawn "Dr. Andrews will see you now" Hill before he breaks down? If the Nats take another shot at this glue-factory arm in ST, I say he goes down by mid-March.

  39. raymitten - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    I don't see any starter other than Lee worth risking. Pavano spent four years on the Yankees payroll not pitching. We've got plenty of guys — Wang, Marquis — who are already doing that. I don't understand the de la Rosa fascination either. This year there really isn't any FA option as a starter except Lee that's going to be worthy, in my opinion.

  40. sec3mysofa - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    There absolutely will be a free agent starter or two who has a good2011. The trick will be finding him.

  41. Anonymous - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    The always cautious Rizzo will watch all the other teams pick the low hanging fruit and he will be dumpster dipping in January and February.

  42. sec3mysofa - Nov 18, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    As long as we are getting our hopes up…"According to Jorge Ebro at El Nuevo Herald, 17-year old Cuban centerfielder Yasiel Balaguer has defected to Nicaragua with hopes of signing with a Major League team. Ebro cites reports saying Balaguer's big draws are his explosive speed and throwing arm, though he has shown some offensive power as well in the Cuban National Series."www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/11/latin-links-beltre-renteria-v-mart-balantien.html

  43. Jeeves - Nov 18, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Mystery team in on Justin Upton. Hope it's the Nats. In regard to first base, I would like to see the team target a player such as Logan Morrison, or Smoat or Ackley. Not sure they have the goods to get any of these players, but Florida could use a good young catcher. Bard is not their answer. And Seattle certainly could use some help at various positions. Anyway, I can dream.

  44. Doc - Nov 18, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Let's hope that, whatever pitcher Rizzo may sign, he actually checks the physicals. Ending up with another sorearmed pitcher like Marquis is not what the Nats need.

  45. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Jeeves….. The Marlins just spent $18 Mil on John Buck from Toronto so I believe they think they're set. And there not parting with any of their cheap young guys.

  46. Water23 - Nov 18, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Hmmm, Justin Upton is now available. He fits the Nats plan as a young good player. He will cost some players on the roster now but would he not make sense? They say the D'Backs are asking for four or five players so would Morse, Morgan, Norris, Atilano and other minor league be enough. If so, we would have Willingham/Bernadina/Upton in the outfield. We get solid RF with lots of upside and next year's outfield might be Upton/Bernadina/Harper?

  47. Steve M. - Nov 18, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/11/marlins-intend-to-spend-on-pitching.htmlAnon8 hit the Lilly reference and probably right on about Westbrook too with respect to comparing Pavano. Good job!

  48. sec3 - Nov 18, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Water, I could be wrong but I would be disappointed in that deal if I were a Phoenix fan.

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