LAS VEGAS, NV — We are in the brief “quiet period” in Major League Baseball during this respite when most free agents are not allowed to negotiate with other teams until Thursday at 5 pm. This is the three-days used for the General Managers meetings that are in full swing. The GMs along with front office personnel, and agents are all under one roof at Resorts World on 3000 South Las Vegas Boulevard in Sin City.
There was a flurry of activity in the days before GMs arrived last night in Las Vegas. There were free agent filings, DFAs, opt-outs, opt-ins, player options exercised, mutual options declined, and even a small trade since the World Series ended. For the Washington Nationals, the action has gone down as expected with the roster sitting at 35 players before the team has to consider adding back six players on the 60-day IL tomorrow. That means the Nats have to make at least one roster move to stay at or below 40 players on Thursday.
Okay, the Nats did have one free agent signing already, and it was a minor league deal for Sean Doolittle. The biggest news so far for the Nats was the declination of Nelson Cruz‘s mutual option, making him a free agent.
Official: The #Nationals have declined the 2023 Mutual Option on Nelson Cruz. We first reported this was going to happen on October 15. Cruz’s $16 million mutual option requires the #Nats to pay a $3 million buyout to sever ties with him. Cruz is now a free agent. https://t.co/tNvU9tZMGt
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats) November 6, 2022
After the scheduled meetings tomorrow, Nats’ general manager Mike Rizzo will have his time with the assembled media in his first appearance since the team’s Ballpark Bash for invited guests at Nationals Park that included a Q&A session at the end of October. Of course one of the questions asked of Rizzo at that event was whether he was going to pick up Cruz’s option to which he would not directly answer it. A week later, Cruz was gone. Rizzo keeps his cards close to his vest. How do you know when he is lying? Let’s just say the man sometimes thinks he works for the CIA. It must be a Washington, D.C. thing.
When Rizzo speaks to the media tomorrow, will he show any of his cards? Probably not. Of course we want to know if the Lerner ownership group has given him a budget to spend. We want to know any tidbits on the direction of this team that lost over 100 games in 2022. Maybe he will talk about his highest salaried player, Stephen Strasburg.
Many GMs use this time to start any trade framework that they can work on for the next few weeks leading into the Winter Meetings in San Diego on Dec. 4. This would be a rare period that the Nats have few players to discuss unless someone wanted to pay up for a few square pegs that don’t necessarily fit in their round holes. That could be former first round picks like Seth Romero, Carter Kieboom, and Erick Fedde. But it is doubtful that any team will want these players.
Rizzo’s time in Vegas might be talking to specific agents about players who are free agents. That might be the only real business that Rizzo has to discuss in Sin City. The meetings end on Thursday, and the brief trip will kind of be a first for the Nats with the only time they’ve attended a GMs meeting with ownership up in the air since the offseason after the 2005 season when MLB owned the team.