The calendar says February 1st and the free agent and trade market is frozen

free agent

Graphic from MLB Network Radio

It is February 1st, do you know where your agent is? Where is Scott Boras these days? You have to wonder what is going on as we are just 11 days away from some Spring Training camps opening, and dozens of star free agents remain unsigned. Nationals’ camp opens officially on Valentine’s Day for pitchers and catchers. We know that there are plenty of Nationals players already in Palm Beach County as Adam Eaton, A.J. Cole, have checked-in and of course Trea Turner lives there in the off-season.

For the Washington Nationals, they only had five needs coming into the season and Mike Rizzo addressed three of the needs by signing Matt Adams, Brandon Kintzler, and Howie Kendrick to team-friendly deals. The remaining holes would be adding another reliable starting pitcher and a catcher to match-up with Matt Wieters.

If Mike Rizzo had chosen to stick with the players he had on Thanksgiving and made no moves, he could have done that except for a back-up first baseman after Adam Lind departed for free agency. Before Brandon Kintzler signed, the Nationals still had eight legitimate relievers on their 40-man roster. For the bench, they could have filled it in with prospects they had but instead reached out to Howie Kendrick to re-sign. So far, no trades this off-season — but it does not mean Mike Rizzo has not tried. In the last off-season, Rizzo kicked off the Winter Meetings with a blockbuster deal for Adam Eaton, and it came with some criticism that he sold the farm for him.

“I don’t have to win every trade that I make,” Rizzo said. “As long as I feel good about what I received in it, I’m satisfied with it.”

The singular most impactful addition right now for the 2018 roster will be bringing back Adam Eaton to the active roster after he missed over 80% of the 2017 season due to a knee injury. Mike Rizzo said yesterday that both Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley are healthy. The largest looming question mark with regards to health is whether Daniel Murphy will be healthy enough to return from his microfracture and debridement surgery to play on Opening Day.

“We feel really really good about the eight position players we’re going to run out there every day,” Mike Rizzo said today.

As soon as Mike Rizzo says that he loves the team he has now, your mind immediately shifts to anticipation mode that a move could be imminent because Rizzo has a habit of never being satisfied with his roster. He has to be salivating over the bargains in Aisle 41 which is loaded with unsigned bargain basement talent. With the supply of unsigned players at levels never before seen and demand at low levels as teams are watching their payroll dollars coupled with teams that are purposely tanking, it has created a confluence of bargains like you would find at the Mercedes dealership in a town stricken by a natural disaster. SELL-SELL-SELL!

How long will it be before we hear the Nationals and a Scott Boras pitcher tied together?

That is all it takes is desperation to kick in, and the Nationals will be tied to multiple Scott Boras clients. On top of that, the Nationals are still tied deeply to J.T. Realmuto in trade scenarios, and this we have heard from multiple sources that this is close to coming to fruition if either side would relent just a smidgen on the final stipulations.

One player who had an opinion yesterday was Brandon Moss who was recently traded by the Royals to the Oakland A’s, and he unloaded with his opinion on the player off-season logjam.

“[We] have the right to bargain and set our price,” Moss said. “Just like the owners have the right to meet that price. But what we’ve done is we have incentivized owners. We have incentivized teams to say, ‘We don’t want to meet that price. It costs us too much to meet that price. Costs us draft picks. It costs us international signing money.’ … And the only reason those things are there is because we bargained them in [the Collective Bargaining Agreement]. If I’m an owner, my goal is to have the bottomline be in the black and to put a winner on the field and the bottomline to be in the black. The more opportunity you give me to do those things, the better off I’m going to be [as an owner].”

Moss paused to catch his breath and continued.

“I feel like, as players, we have to watch out for our own interests,” Moss added. “If you run too good of a deal out there in a [Collective] Bargaining Agreement, then of course the owners are going to jump on it. You have to be willing to dig your heels in a little bit [and] fight for the things the guys in the past have fought for. … I just hate to see players like me taking advantage of a system that was set up for me by other players, and not passing it along to the next generation of players. Everybody wants to look up and scream collusion. … Sooner or later, you have to take responsibility for a system you created for yourself. It’s our fault [as the players].”

There you have it. You are now up-to-date as to all the happenings of the off-season which is less than two-weeks remaining from its conclusion before we enter the official pre-season known as Spring Training.

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