The Winter Meetings start this weekend

The Winter Meetings begin on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, and the last time the Washington Nationals were in that city for the Winter Meetings was back in 2015. Turn-back-the-clock to that time in 2015, and the Nats had just hired Dusty Baker to replace Matt Williams. The Nats were the talk of the town at those Winter Meetings, and were shopping for a second baseman — eventually signing Daniel Murphy.

The Nationals were not looking for starting pitching in that Winter Meetings as their rotation was set with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross and Tanner Roark. Trivia question: Who led that 2016 Nats’ team in starter’s ERA and FIP? Hint: It was not Scherzer with his 2.96 ERA and 3.24 FIP. All of those names are gone from the Nats roster except for Strasburg, and we all know he will not be pitching again short of a medical miracle. The Nats rotation needs help after a staff 5.02 ERA this past season.

While some teams like the Tigers, Braves and Cardinals have been doing their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping already, most teams are still waiting to make moves. The only Top-25 Free Agents off the market are Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray. Everyone else is still available.

Last year, Jeimer CandelarioAnthony RizzoTyler AndersonRafael Montero and Jose Abreu — all were signed before the calendar turned to December. Of course this year, all eyes are on Shohei Ohtani who is going to shatter all free agent records. Add to that, there is intrigue swirling around, that another trade of Juan Soto is probable. Could the Ray trade Tyler Glasnow? The Guardians could trade Shane Bieber, and the White Sox, after holding onto Dylan Cease at the trade deadline, might deal him now. Are the Brewers willing to move Corbin Burnes?

Personally, I wouldn’t be trading players and prospects for pitching when there is so much available in the free agent market thanks to several names that have emerged from the Asian markets, non-tenders, and a lengthy list that had already been anticipated from the pending MLB free agents. There was also the team option that was not picked up on Michael Wacha that made him a free agent, and the Brandon Woodruff non-tender just adds to what could be a new wrinkle added to over a dozen names that could serve the Nats well, at the front of their rotation. Woodruff will be coming off of a surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his right shoulder, and his future is a gamble on risk/reward after his surgery in early October that might keep him out for the entire 2024 season — if he is ever serviceable to pitch again.

There’s still Ohtani, Yoshinobu YamamotoJordan Montgomery and two-time Cy Young winner Blake Snell at the top of the pitching market. Then you have Eduardo Rodriguez (31) 13-9, 152.2 IP, 3.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, Lucas Giolito (29) 8-15, 184.1 IP, 4.88 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, Marcus Stroman (33) 10-9, 136.2 IP, 3.95 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, Seth Lugo (34) 8-7, 146.1 IP, 3.57 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, Shota Imanaga (30) 7-5, 159 IP, 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP (Japan Central League/Japan Eastern League), Wacha (32) 14-4, 134.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, Nick Martinez (33) 6-4, 110.1 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, Sean Manaea (32) 7-6, 117.2 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, Tyler Mahle (29) 1-2, 25.2 IP, 3.16 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, Jack Flaherty (28) 8-9, 144.1 IP, 4.99 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, and Michael Lorenzen (32) 9-9, 153 IP, 4.18 ERA, 1.21 WHIP.

Of course there are so many more starting pitchers out there like Luis SeverinoJames Paxton, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Frankie Montas. Those would be part of the bargain aisle, and damaged goods. But what about old friend, and the old-and-improved Erick Fedde? He was just named the KBO’s MVP today in Korea. He will test the waters in free agency after he was non-tendered a year ago by the Nats and chose to go to Korea.

The market is open, and we will see if the Nats are shopping before the Winter Meetings like they did last year.

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