Dec 9, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Hello from the Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World, where the Winter Meetings officially open for business this morning.
That’s assuming everyone made it out of the snow/ice up north. By all accounts, it appears everyone associated with the Nationals did make it, including your trusty beat writer, who was delayed getting out of Dulles yesterday afternoon/evening but still managed to make it here in relatively simple fashion.
The Nats find themselves in unusual territory at these meetings. Unusual because they already addressed two of their biggest roster needs last week — trading for Doug Fister to fill out the rotation and signing Nate McLouth as a top left-handed bench bat — and thus don’t need to accomplish a whole lot over the next four days.
Their agenda does include a few items, though, and right at the top of that list is a left-handed reliever.
We’ve been talking about this for the last two months, and nothing really has changed in this regard aside from some potential targets (Javier Lopez, Manny Parra, Wesley Wright) signing elsewhere. Any other lefties who remain unsigned (Eric O’Flaherty, J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Scott Downs, Oliver Perez) all are on the Nationals’ radar to varying degrees. It seems a certainty they’ll wind up with one of those guys. It’s only a question of who. And when.
There’s been increased buzz about O’Flaherty, and for good reason: He’s far and away the best of the available lefties, and the Nationals (like several other clubs) have significant interest in him. The trick is figuring out an appropriate contract offer for a guy still recovering from Tommy John surgery on May 21 who won’t be ready to pitch on Opening Day.
Mike Rizzo has never been afraid to take a chance on pitchers with elbow problems, and he certainly knows what a healthy O’Flaherty could do for the Nationals bullpen. Rizzo just has to come up with an offer that both makes sense for his team and remains the most appealing option for O’Flaherty.
That offer probably will include incentives based on games pitched in 2014, and it probably will include some kind of option for 2015 (unless another club is willing to give O’Flaherty two guaranteed years, at which point Rizzo has to decide if he’s willing to take that risk as well).
I would imagine we’ll be hearing plenty more about this pursuit in the next few days. Rizzo is scheduled to meet with reporters this afternoon, and Matt Williams to is due to hold his first-ever Winter Meetings media session tomorrow.
You’ll find plenty of updates right here over the next four days.
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