The Winter Meetings are officially underway in Nashville, Tennessee, and the last time the Washington Nationals were in that city for the Winter Meetings was back in 2015. It is a short drive for Nats’ manager Dave Martinez who lives near Nashville in his offseason home and farm. For General Manager Mike Rizzo and the rest of his front office staff, they mostly live in the DC area. The Nats, like most teams, hope to do some deals while they are there, or at least get the framework for a deal done like the Nats did last year with Trevor Williams.
The Nationals are looking for starting pitching where no names have emerged. They are also looking for corner infielder(s) and/or designated hitters that can also serve as middle of the infield bats. One familiar name that has emerged is Jeimer Candelario who was a Nats a year ago after he was signed on a one-year deal, and is now back on the market.
The only Top-25 Free Agents off the market are Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray. Everyone else is still available, and the big name, Shohei Ohtani, reportedly already has offers of over $500 million on the table.
Last year, Candelario, Anthony Rizzo, Tyler Anderson, Rafael Montero and Jose Abreu — all were signed before the calendar turned to December. Of course this year, all eyes are on Ohtani who is going to shatter all free agent records. Add to that, there is intrigue swirling around a trade of Juan Soto is probable with the Blue Jays emerging as the team to get him. 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?
For the Nats, I wouldn’t be trading top 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, declined options, and a lengthy list that had already been anticipated from the pending MLB free agents.
There’s still Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Jordan 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), Michael Wacha (32) 14-4, 134.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.16 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 James Paxton, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Frankie Montas. 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. Wade Miley is rumored to be going back to the Brewers so I specifically asked a source if the Nats were “in” on him — and was told “no” which might tell you the Nats are looking at players above where they perceived Miley will be at -or- it could mean nothing.
The Nats had already been tied to Candelario, and Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Soler were two other names that the Nats were discussing per a source. There are several other DH types the team is looking at, and you have to wonder if J.D. Martinez could be a player who would fit, and what about Justin Turner?
With that deeper than expected pitcher’s market, there are names that could go the Nats way. Our source told us they were hoping to have had a signing before the Winter Meetings started but “there was no firm deadline” on that. Compared to last year, it looks like agents are waiting a little longer. The Nats cleared two spots on the roster with DFA’s of Roddery Munoz and Joe La Sorsa putting the 40-man roster at 38-players. Munoz was picked up by the Pirates in a waiver claim and La Sorsa cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Rochester. Remember, the Rule-5 Draft is on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings, so you never know what Rizzo is planning for those two vacant spots.
Tomorrow, the Nats will also find out their fate in the new Draft Lottery system that was put into place last year and will limit the Nats to pick no higher than No. 10 in the 2024 draft due to the fact the Nats got a lottery pick in 2023 and are not allowed to get lottery picks in consecutive years. There is no indication that the Nats will jump back into the Rule-5 Draft on Wednesday, but certainly there are some interesting names that Baseball America compiled. The Nats control the 5th pick in the first round of the Rule-5 Draft.
Both Martinez and Rizzo will be meeting with the media today at the Winter Meetings. Whether or not we get any information or direction the team is going in — we will be looking for clues as to the direction — and also hope some more sourced information makes it our way.