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Another 7-year contract offer?

Dec 7, 2010, 12:30 PM EDT

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As Day 2 of the Winter Meetings gets underway, here are some Tuesday morning goodies to munch on with your breakfast…

– If the Nationals truly are serious about making their second gargantuan splash of the offseason by signing Cliff Lee, they may need only to inform the left-hander they're willing to give him a seven-year contract. Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported last night that at least one big-league club is willing to offer Lee a seven-year deal. And the Yankees, he reported, are not that club. This may all just be posturing on the part of agent Darek Braunecker, who told reporters yesterday that the Nationals are by no means out of the running for Lee. It's entirely possible Braunecker is using the Nats as leverage to try to convince the Yankees, Rangers or someone else to up the ante. But as we saw on Sunday with Jayson Werth, the notion of the Nationals blowing the rest of the competition out of the water with a massive contract offer is not out of the question. Does that mean there's a realistic chance Lee ends up in D.C.? I still don't think so. But if the Nats want to find out for sure whether the best pitcher on the market is willing to join them, they may need merely to make the kind of outrageous offer that already landed Werth this week.

– That said, I still believe the Nationals' best hope of acquiring a front-line starting pitcher is via trade. It would cost a bundle (multiple players from a variety of positions) but Mike Rizzo suggestedRead more »

  1. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    Why won't Riggs publicly say he wants to see Nyjer throw to the correct base, hit the cutoff man, be patient at the plate, and run the bases with intelligence! Oh, and bunt to the 1st base side. Other than that…

  2. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    God how I love poking that big stick in the Yankees eye!

  3. raymitten - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    I saw the same Lee 7 year rumor and it gave me a glimmer of hope that the Nats may have a chance, albeit a long shot one, to actually obtain Lee. If the Yanks and Texas won't give Lee seven years, who else would other than us? I also think people are jumping off the bridge about Nyjer being the center fielder much the same way I did (as did others) when Dunn left. I don't think Rizz is done, and if you listen to his comments to Peter Gammons immediately after Werth signed, he was touting his ability to play center. At this point, Nyjer Morgan is still on the roster, and it does no one any good to say "this guy is a nut job with no arm" if they are trying to trade him. So I'd take all comments about Nyjer at this point with a grain of salt. Rizzo isn't finished, and has one heck of a poker face.

  4. raymitten - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Any more hints as to who your "mystery player" may be Mark? I have a theory. The spend-happy Washington Nationals have destroyed the pay structure of major league baseball to such a degree that, in order to obtain the funds to get a right fielder on the free agent market, the Boston Red Sox trade Jon Lester to the Nationals for John Lannan and Alberto Gonzalez. "Its an outrage!" cries ESPN analyist Keith Law.

  5. Section 223 - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Signing Werth bought us a seat at the big poker table. He brings us talent and credability with the rest of the league. Signing Lee would cement that. Hey, it's only money (and not mine, though I will kick in $20 to sign Lee).By signing two high-profile players, it gives Rizzo quite a bit of latitude to trade for a player that he thinks fills things out. I for one am having a very good holiday season.

  6. Big Cat - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    If Harper is decent in spring…..bring him north with the big club. Robin Yount did it at 18. So did Tony Conigliaro. I believe this kid has the moxy to do it. He is physically gifted, but more importantly, mentally, I think he would not be overwhelmed. His dad is a blue collar guy who has his son grounded. So you have him and Werth on the corners in the outfield. Also, there is one of your lefthanded bats Mark. Sign Laroche…..put Bernie in CF…sign Lee to a mega deal and bingo! we're in the hunt!

  7. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Yes, Harper would be like Joe Hardy in "Damn Yankees" Hmmmmmm, interesting

  8. Andrew - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Ray, good points. The Nats are in so much better shape to start this season then last year with the exception of 1st base.This season already has a better rotation to start 2011 then 2010 because we knew Strasburg would not start the 2010 season on the rotation and Jordan Zimmermann is back and Marquis should be healthy.The outfield now has the best RF in the NL in Jayson Werth and has last years Willingham and Nyjer at this point in time and clearly Morse and Bernadina on the bench.The team has a legit 1A backup at catcher behind Pudge in either Ramos or Flores instead of Nieves.The infield has Desmond with a year of MLB behind him and a gold glove calibre 2nd baseman in Danny Espinosa and of course Zim. The team is looking for a defensive minded 1st baseman with some power that bats from the left side.The bullpen was a top priority last year and is stacked and probably could use a veteran closer.The bench has Morse, Bernadina, Ramos/JFlores, and Gonzalez and is short one LH bat.All in all, this team clearly needs a direction on 1st base and still could use an upgrade in the starting rotation if possible to get this team to a 80 win team.Now throw all this out the window after Rizzo tinkers with any of the names mentioned here.

  9. VladiHondo - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    Just a blurb on Rotoworld got me thinking – saying the Reds got inquiries on Yonder Alonso, who is very solidly blocked by Votto at 1st (tho they are trying him in LF – the Reds suffered through a few years of Dunn in LF, so have a tolerance level so-so play in the LF). Would the Nats be one of them? Should the Nats be one of them? Alonso was a first rounder in 2k8, picked 2 slots ahead of our late, great Aaron Crow. He's got a ML contract, so the Reds may feel pressed to use him or dump him.He hits Lefty. Don't know if we have the pieces the Reds would want (Hammer + P prospect?).

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Harper IS NOT coming north with the big club. He's not going to Harrisburg or Syracuse. He's going to experience success at "A" ball before he advances anywhere. I'll be very suprised if he spends more than 2 weeks with the big club in Spring Training.

  11. Anonymous8 - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    Big Cat – You are dreaming. Not a chance Bryce Harper comes North in April with the Nats. The earliest we will see him is as a September callup and then full-time as a 19 year old in June 2012.

  12. Anonymous8 - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Written on MLBTR: •The Brewers' and Jays' swap of prospect Brett Lawrie and Shaun Marcum became official as well. Milwaukee beefed up its rotation by trading a prospect who was likely blocked. The Brewers said they're willing listen on any of their players in the right deal, including another of their top prospects — center fielder Lorenzo Cain.This kid could be the Nats answer in CF if the Nats had someone that the Brewers wanted.Also the Yonder Alonso at 1B is another interesting young player with the Reds.

  13. Doc - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Morse is starting to create a little buzz around the Hot Stove League. Riggleman would be happy to have him at 1st. Phillies might want him for RF–he reminds some of them of Werth. He could do what Pena and LaRoche do at first, maybe with more power than the latter, and more BA than the former.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    Doc…. Say "Left Handed Power Bat" 10 times. That's what we need.

  15. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Willingham = Ellsbury.Desmond/D Norris = Greinke.

  16. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Don't forget the name, Mark. I haven't forgotten. Need the name. Give us the name. If it is indeed Beltre, we sniffed that out long ago, so just tell us and go with it. Need the name.

  17. Souldrummer - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    "and to be there to be knocked in."Hey Riggles, there's this thing called a stop sign. Don't be afraid to use it.

  18. Ballinonabudget - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Anon @ 9:31 said…Willingham = Ellsburyummmm noWillingham < Ellsburymuch much <

  19. Paul - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    As much as I hate the thought of paying a 39 year old pitcher $20 million – I am starting to think the Nats should take that plunge. FA aces with big game experience don't hit the market that often and to quote on GM, "it's easier to find an easter bunny". I know Sabathia was 28 when he signed 7 years, but he obviously has some risk of the length of contract because he looks like Peter Griffin in pin stripes. Also, DC is a major media market – there is a lot of money to be tapped into, so having a payroll aproaching 9 figures shouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. I say do it, get some injury protection language in there and get that ace!

  20. Paul - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Plus it only costs money, not precious prospects.

  21. Dave Nichols - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    "We want Nyjer to score. And to score, he's got to be on base. We know he can do it. He's shown he can do it. We just hope that he's getting on base at a little higher clip, and that's going to mean a little improvement against left-handed pitching, basically."there is NOTHING in Morgan's history to suggest that he's ever going hit left-handed pitching. in 334 career plate appearances against left-handers, he's .200/.292/.269. those are pitcher batting numbers.

  22. PDowdy83 - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    This should get everyone around here stirring.Olney says speculation the Nats will throw a HUGE number at Lee.http://twitter.com/Buster_ESPN/status/12156461421432832

  23. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    I'm not the original poster of the Ellsbury rumor but the Bosox do appear to have soured on Jacoby AND the do appear enamored of Willingham AND they are looking for bullpen arms. I don't think Willingham for Ellsbury is that far-fetched, although we'd probably have to throw in, say, Ballester or an Arizona Fall League arm.Here's another one I wonder about. Willingham for Papelbon. Rizzo said he'd look for a closer and the Sox seem ready to move on from Jonathan. Both players are FAs after this season.

  24. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    "in 334 career plate appearances against left-handers, he's .200/.292/.269. those are pitcher batting numbers."Also a fairly small sample size, FWIW.

  25. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Wow it's fun to be a Nats fan today! Think I'll take off this afternoon and roam the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel. I'll look for you Mark.

  26. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    And to followup on PDowdy83's post, Heyman tweets that the Nats are being "ultra aggressive" going after starting pitching and that they "mean business". Is this Lee's agent jabbing at the Yankees for that 7th year by leaking to the usual suspects?

  27. Doc - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    @ NatsJack: Yeah, I was thinking about that issue of LH bat as I made my comments. You're not wrong. But Morse, so far, in his limited appearance in the NL, has hit righties as well as lefties. But finding a replacement for Dunn's LH bat would be a good idea.Have a good time at the Dolphin!!

  28. N. Cognito - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… "I'll look for you Mark," he said, as Mark frantically looked for a good hiding place.;^)

  29. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    He'll need a disguise because ther's no place to hide in the lobby. If he goes to the press rooms, however, I'll never find him.

  30. natsfan1a - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    (psst, Mark. Maybe you could hide inside that grotesque "Christmas tree" structure that looks to be made of poinsettias. That, or behind the MLB Network desk that's located in front of it. Seriously, though, NatsJack seems to be a good guy, so I don't think you need to hide.)

  31. N. Cognito - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    According to Keith Law, Mark is now disguised as a woman, going by the name of "Daphne." She should be easy to spot however, as she's carrying with her a bass.

  32. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    Kilgore's Nats source says the team will not offer 7 years. Zero chance. You hearing the same Mark?

  33. Steve M. - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    Dave Nichols said… there is NOTHING in Morgan's history to suggest that he's ever going hit left-handed pitching. in 334 career plate appearances against left-handers, he's .200/.292/.269. those are pitcher batting numbers. Dave, very true on Nyjer Morgan but he was far from the biggest problem on this team last year and I don't think Rizzo and Riggleman will throw him under the bridge.Dave, what is your opinion of Wil Nieves as a baseball player? He batted .203 against all pitchers and .190 on the road and has no power and not much of an arm. Besides being a great person, would you want him on your team?

  34. N. Cognito - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    All the rumblings and grumblings over the last few days and I still haven't heard a solution to the lead-off spot.

  35. N. Cognito - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Steve M. said… Dave Nichols said… "Dave, what is your opinion of Wil Nieves as a baseball player? He batted .203 against all pitchers and .190 on the road and has no power and not much of an arm. Besides being a great person, would you want him on your team?"You've answered your own question.

  36. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    My opionion of Wil Nieves as a baseball player? He's a nice guy.

  37. Brian R. - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    N. Cognito:Suppose NatsJack is really a bombshell blonde!

  38. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Why all the Nieves bashing? He's gone. This is Phase Two. Nieves is soooo Phase One. Get over it.

  39. Bowdenball - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    Steve M:Just my opinion, but I think Nyjer was easily the biggest problem on the team last year. We were near the bottom of the league in runs scored despite having a 3-4 combo (and until July, a 3-4-5 combo) as good as any in the league. The reason? The leadoff man, whose primary job is to get on base, was horrible at getting on base, and tended to run himself off base once he got there. Obviously the problem wasn't Nyjer and Nyjer alone, but he was the one who was designated as the leadoff man for the 2010 Nats before the season started, not Guzman or Desmond or Bernadina. He had a clear job to do at the plate, and he didn't do it.

  40. Water23 - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    So, it seems now is the time to sign someone else big. Lee may be too much to ask for but why not Crawford. 7 or 8 years and he will still be a 36. He is five tool and just the kinda a player the Rizzo talks about. Granted it would be another huge K and then Harper might have to play CF in a year or two. You could then move Hammer and desmond as part of deal for SP (garza or grienke and sign Webb and Pena/Laroche. The lineup would be solid for years to come and Bernadina/Morse etc would make a decent depth from the bench.The Nats would be in the $90 million dollar range which is doable.

  41. Steve M. - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    In this season of giving, I want to give my blessings to Rick Eckstein who is going into the hospital to give a kidney to his brother Ken. Amazing. I remember when George Lopez's wife did the same for him. A friend of mine went through the same several years ago and it saved his life.Also condolences to Chad Cordero's family on the passing of their baby daughter.Life is fragile.

  42. Steve M. - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Bowdenball – I think for this coming season Nyjer could be the biggest problem on the team. I felt that way off and on for so long last year until Justin Maxwell, Willie Harris and Wil Nieves came to bat.I think if Nyjer has his head screwed on properly and is willing to learn and grow as a player he could help this team but I doubt it. I could see Werth playing CF as a stopgap and grabbing Lorenzo Cain from the Brewers if available and give him more time in AAA. Morse can play RF with Bernadina in a platoon until Cain is ready as I think he could be the CF of the future here.

  43. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Still think Morse ends up starting in left field. Seems like they want to give Bernadina the reins. But Morse has shown he can hit, he just needs to improve the fielding in the outfield.Unless they get a left handed bat in left field instead of first base. With Werth in hand you almost have to think they might go for a left handed first base prospect that is blocked from the majors. Especially if they get lucky and sign Cliff Lee.

  44. natsfan1a - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    I second Steve M. on both Eckstein and Cordero. There's baseball, and there's life. Good to have some perspective as well as a reminder of what's important, imo.

  45. Bowdenball - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    I see what you're saying, Steve M. I considered lack of production at the top of the order to be the Nats' biggest problem last year, and Nyjer was the man at the top of the order. He certainly wasn't the worst player on the team. I agree with you that CF/leadoff is still a huge hole, not just in 2011 but maybe even beyond that. I don't see either of the middle infielders developing into someone who can get on base at a high enough rate to occupy the #1 spot in the lineup, and I don't see anyone in the farm system who provides hope from an OBP perspective, either. Except Derek Norris, who I sincerely doubt will be hitting leadoff.

  46. David - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    What about Jesus Flores at 1B? His bat was becoming one of the best for a catcher in the NL in 2008 and the beginning of 2009. With Ramos and Pudge splitting time at C, why not give it a shot? He's got to be better than Dunn defensively. I'd rather have Flores at 1B and either Pavano/Greinke/Garza in the rotation than LaRoche at 1st and no additional starter.

  47. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Rizzo isn't finished, and has one heck of a poker face.Mike Rizzo is dating Lady Gaga? Now that's real news!

  48. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    @David,Flores is way too good a receiver to waste at first base. The superior offensive skills and bat in the catching category clearly belong to Derrick Norris. That is who one would ostensibly convert to a first basemen. The problem? He isn't a switch hitter and/or bat left handed. That is what they need right now to balance the line up.

  49. Doc - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    Depends on ST, but Flores currently has a hot bat in VWL. Could be that he could do something at first, not much different than Pena or Laroche. Also, Riggleman seems determined to get Morse some ABs. If Willingham goes for a pitcher, then Morse in LF and Werth in RF, with Bernadina in CF. See what happens in ST. Morgan will either show or not show.

  50. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    When everyone sees what kind of shape Jesus is in these days, it is apparent that he got the Rizzo message of being an athlete. I cannot believe he is anything other than a catcher (and a damn good one when healthy) at this stage of his carreer but staying healthy is the problem. More like Norris gets moved because his physical abilities are alot less that either Flores or Ramos. Two quality catchers under the age of 26 is a luxury, for sure.Oh well…of to Disney for the afternoon. Have to listen to MLB on my Ipad.

  51. David - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Could derek norris make that jump in 2011? I was thinking that an inhouse solution for 1B this season plus spending on a pitcher would be better than buying Laroche or Pena without getting another pitcher. If it comes down to where to spend the money, on 1B or a pitcher, I'd rather spend it on a pitcher.

  52. Paul - Dec 7, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    A couple of comments:1. Before Flores can play 1B or C, he needs to play healthy. That is his number goal. I would guess he will be the starting C at Syracuse, so he can get regular playing time.2. Nyjer in CF wasn't a problem, Nyjer leading off was. Nyjer is a very good def. CF right now, but if he hits like he did last year, he doesn't belong at the top of the order. If Desmond continues his strong second half I could see him lead off, or maybe even Morse, kind of like how the Red Sox have Kevin Youkilis lead off for one year. (Although if Morse has the kind of year he had last year, he should be lower in the order).3. I know the brass is high on Bernadina, but if Morse played the way he did last year, and Morgan plays def. the way he does, I think the OF will be Morse in LF (less risky than RF), Morgan CF, Werth RF. Bernadina's OPS+ (a number where the league average OPS is 100. Higher than 100 is better than average). was 86. Morse's OPS+ was 133 (126 vs. RH) – by contrast, for some reason, Bernadina hit LH a lot better than RH. Anyway, I am not suggesting that anyone give up on Bernadina, he is young, just Morse has the potential to be very good.4. If you read any articles on Werth's defensive ability, the one thing everyone raves about is his arm. He can certainly play CF, but why would you want to take him out of a position where is one of the best in the league and put him in a position where he is fine? I mean, I bet Zimmerman plays a mean 1B, but why move him off 3B?

  53. Paul - Dec 7, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    I just read Wandy Rodriguez might be on the block. Is this the player Mark?

  54. NatJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    David. You are delusional on Nyjer Morgan's defense. He is absolutely the worst centerfielder in baseball. He made one great catch all season long, played singles into doubles,and doubles into triples and inside the park homeruns. No arm at all!

  55. David - Dec 7, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    Not me, someone else maybe. I just want a decent pitcher.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 18
ATLANTA 72 67 7.5
MIAMI 67 70 11.5
NEW YORK 65 74 14.5
PHILADELPHIA 64 74 15.0
Through Tuesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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