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Nats players respond to an offseason full of rumors

Jan 30, 2014, 2:29 PM EST

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As professional sports continue to adapt to the age of Twitter and social media, one thing is becoming clearer and clearer as each year goes by. Rumors, whether the trade or free agent variety, are becoming more prevalent as media outlets and fans crave content and conversation more and more by the day.

The NFL has positioned itself to generate news throughout the calendar year, and other sports are beginning to follow.

Take this baseball offseason, which featured an inordinate amount of trade rumors involving players on the Nationals. Nearly every Nats player – except those who are obviously unavailable – found themselves mentioned in trade possibilities this winter. And for the most part, it’s been from national outlets with respected track records, or local publications with legitimate connections to the team.

To recap, look at the Nats players rumored to be available for trade this offseason. This is all in less than four months:

Denard Span

Drew Storen

Ian Desmond

Jordan Zimmermann

Danny Espinosa

Tyler Clippard

Adam LaRoche

Wilson Ramos

Anthony Rendon

Tyler Moore

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But beyond the Bryce Harpers and Stephen Strasburgs – the players you know the Nats would not trade – there are reasons you could come with for why the Nats would listen to offers for every player listed. Based on their trade value, contract situation or position on the depth chart, a case could be made.

It’s likely that every one of the rumors had at least some truth tied to them as well. From the Nationals’ perspective, leaking a rumor about Danny Espinosa, for instance, is wise. They can gauge his value by seeing who calls, while at the same time avoid the trouble of calling around the league themselves. It’s an efficient and calculated way to do business.

Trade rumors provide excitement for fans on random offseason days, they start debate and get all of us talking. But what about the players? Their names are dangled in debates on television and on Twitter, yet the actual consequences of such a move are rarely mentioned. Of course, if a player gets traded, their life changes dramatically.

Several Nationals players talked about the issue last weekend, including some who are on the list above, as well as two guys who were actually traded this offseason.

One of those traded players was Jerry Blevins who came over to the Nationals in a Dec. 11 trade with the Oakland Athletics. Blevins had heard media reports about his status on the trade block, and as the season went on began to sense the end for him in Oakland was likely near.

“I saw how I didn’t pitch in the playoffs and there were a few situations where normally that would be my position, but you never speculate,” Blevins said. “If you start doing that, you start questioning what’s going on, you can get caught up in a lot of different stuff. You’re prepared for anything as a baseball player, you understand that there’s a business to it as well. If you do get traded, I couldn’t ask for a better place to be traded to.”

A seven-year veteran, Blevins has learned how to deal with trade rumors. He was dealt in the offseason, which makes matters a little easier. Doug Fister – also acquired this offseason by Washington in a trade – has been traded twice. In 2011 he was shipped to Detroit by the Mariners in late July. This time around he realizes how much better it is to be traded over the winter.

“It’s a little easier in that I don’t have to pack up an apartment and be ready to leave in the next day or so. It’s one of those things that I’ve had the offseason to take care of, getting anything in line that I need to get in line,” he said.

Drew Storen was featured in one of the bigger debates of the offseason, as his name appeared in a story linking the Nationals to then-free agent closer Grant Balfour. It was just another rumor in a long line of them for the young Nats reliever, and by this point he’s used to it.

“It’s part of the business. You read it and … eh, whatever happens. You never really know the full story. It’s kind of funny. Once I dealt with it the first time in 2011, it just kind of rolls off.”

Denard Span’s name surfaced in November, just one year after he was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Nationals. It prompted the center fielder to send out a message on Twitter.

Here we go again

— Denard Span (@thisisdspan) November 9, 2013

Though the story was enough to prompt a reference on social media, Span says he wasn’t upset when he saw the rumor. After six years in the majors, he’s seen enough to know there’s no sense in getting caught up with the Hot Stove season.

“I take it with a grain of salt now. It’s not my first rodeo, I’ve dealt with it in the past,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but this offseason I’ve just been more confident. I believe that I’m a good player, so whether it’s gonna be here or wherever I’m going to be at, they are going to be getting a good player and a good person. So when I heard it, it was like ‘here we go again,’ but if I have to go wherever I’m going to be productive and be a good player.”

Span is still in Washington and still projects to be on the Nats’ Opening Day roster, as does each and every name you see listed above. The rumors will go away soon, but only for a few months until the trade deadline nears. And then, as soon as the 2014 playoffs end, the Hot Stove will once again heat back up.

    • ArVAfan - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Seven bobbleheads and a garden gnome. Honey, we’re going to need a bigger shelf.

  1. JamesFan - Jan 30, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Rizzo is very careful with trades and I really like that. I’m sure that GMs from both sides float names all the time just to see what happens.

    The Ramos and Gio trades were terrific. We’ll see about Fister but it should be a good one as well.

    What if the Grienke for Storen and Espinoza deal had gone through? Looked bad then, but looks good now.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 30, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      wasn’t JZ supposed to be part of that deal?

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 30, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      or desi I think.

      • knoxvillenat - Jan 30, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Yes, Zimmermann, Storen and Espinosa for Grienke. It didn’t happen in part because Grienke wanted to go somewhere he thought would contend right away and in the future and supposedly made a comment that Rizzo was giving up too much and would in fact hurt the Nats chances of winning that (2011?) season.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        I remember all that. I just couldn’t recall who the other player was because that makes it a completely different trade than what was written by JamesFan.

  2. NatsLady - Jan 30, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    I never heard the Desi rumor. Some of the others were like ………0000000000001% chance of happening.

  3. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    possible Nats target? we still need a veteran backup, right?

    • David Proctor - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      It’s intriguing since we’ve been dabbling in the international market again lately–for the first time since Yunesky Maya really.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        oh god, don’t remind me.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Don’t know much (if anything) about him, but I hope the Nats are exploring such options.

  4. David Proctor - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/01/30/nats-park-gets-hot-looking-red-concourses/

    The concourses at Nats Park are red now. Some pics there.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      Wait, the floors are red?? Somehow I thought they meant the walls or something.

  5. sjm308 - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    I certainly don’t go to baseball games for the promotions but man. In my 20 game plan not one figurine/bobblehead and the only game with any kind of give away is a t-shirt on the 2nd game of the season. The person I live with has informed me I will be in attendance for the Jason Werth garden gnome though so I see an exchange happening there.

    Is there any more word on Jeff Baker? I think that would really shake up the competition in Viera. I am also waiting for that backup catcher but I wonder what kind of defense the young man from Cuba has shown. Also, 28 is really not young and I wonder if Rizzo is in on this.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      Last thing on MLBTR is this from two days ago, referencing Kilgore’s article. So apparently nothing new on Baker.

    • Jw - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      Teddy’s Plan got screwed! I have a half season plan which is Tom + Teddy and get all of them except Ramos and Span.

      • sjm308 - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        Wow Jw way to go – very jealous

  6. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    Chase Hughes wrote: “But beyond the Bryce Harpers and Stephen Strasburgs – the players you know the Nats would not trade – there are reasons you could come with for why the Nats would listen to offers for every player listed.”

    I would suggest that the Nats should even listen to offers for Messrs. Harper and Strasburg, i.e., for anyone on the roster. Even if you”re not going to trade them under any circumstances, listening allows you — the GM — to better understand (a) who’s potentially available from the other team (even at a very high price), and (b) what the ‘market value’ is for your best players (useful intelligence if only because of the ripple effect). Using Mr. Strasburg as a purely hypothetical example, a one-on-one offer for him might lead Mike Rizzo to say “Stephen’s not available, but what about Jordon Zimmermann instead?” And while that might not remain a one-for-one deal (depending on who’s being offered), it could certainly morph into a worthwhile deal. I don’t care whether you’re buying oriental carpets, negotiating an arms control agreement, or trading baseball players, you always listen to what the other side is offering. And even if you don’t strike a deal then and there, you pocket the information for possible future use.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      It depends on what you mean by “listen,” I guess.

      If the Lerners were to go to the mayor, for instance, and ask DC to put a roof on the ballpark, “on the house,” one might say, if one were the sort of person to say that sort of thing, which I’m not, I’m not sure how much time the mayor needs to spend listening to that, much less thinking of an answer longer than one to four words, depending on how polite he’s feeling at the time.

      • David Proctor - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        Well apparently when you ask for a roof, you get a floor. So it’s something.

      • Chas - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        “One man’s Selig is another man’s flaw.”

        I think Abraham Lincoln said that.

  7. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    But seriously, I take it for granted the “No, but how about …?” conversations happen all the time, as a matter of course for a GM. So you’re doubtless correct.

  8. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    If the Phillies could trade Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay, I suppose Strasburg is technically not off the list.

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