The Washington Nationals offseason is starting to resemble last year's, when they failed to sign free-agents Jason Hayward, Yoenis Cespesdes and Ben Zobrist. You could also recall as well the whole Bud Black debacle that eventually named Dusty Baker the next manager for the Nats.
But it worked out just fine for Washington. They signed second baseman Daniel Murphy to a three-year, $37.5 million contract after missing out on Zobrist and not acquiring Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips last winter.
Murphy, who had a unforgettable season in 2016 and arguable the sign of the offseason last year after finishing second in the NL MVP voting. Not to mention manager Dusty Baker leading them to a 95 win season en route to the NL East crown after being out of baseball for three years.
Following being ousted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the NLDS, National fans are beginning to get frustrated with the 2015 performance of Bryce Harper who hit .243/.373/.441 for D.C. and was nagged with the injury bug off-and-on all season. Since the Winter Meetings started in National Harbor, MD, rumors have swirled that Washington will let their franchise player Harper test free-agency waters in 2018 when his contract is up. A team source believes that the club will not try to re-sign him to a long term deal and that he is looking for a deal in excess of 10 years and $400M - although he hasn't personally made that request.
The Nationals wanted free-agent closer Mark Melancon, and he signed with the San Francisco Giants. They wanted to acquire left-hander Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox, and he went to the Red Sox instead. And they could miss out on Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen too if the Nats are reluctant to have top minor league prospect Victor Robles in the deal with Pittsburgh.
Dusty Baker, who managed Melancon after they traded for him prior to the trade deadline has interesting words on him signing wth San Francisco, "We all wanted Melancon, but we don't have the budget or the packed stadium for 800 straight games like the Giants do." And while the Nationals loved Melancon, whom they acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the non-waiver deadline last July, they did not want to pay him $62M over four years and include all the other options he received — front-loaded salaries, a two-year, opt-out and a no-trade clause.
So exactly what is the next move for the Nationals?
You could say that the Nationals' front office hasn't really used home field advantage to their ability during the Winter Meetings, which is merely miles away from Nationals Park. But to say Mike Rizzo is panicking after missing out on two huge would have been additions is premature.
We all know Rizzo isn't afraid to make splashes and blockbuster trades. Yes the Nationals their competitive window is narrowing, with second baseman Daniel Murphy and right fielder Bryce Harper under club control for only two more years, but the MLB offseason has lots of life left.
The deal breaker for Chris Sale being moved to Washington was Trea Turner not being included in the package. Finishing second in the majors in rotation ERA without Sale last season, the Nats were fine with saying no when asked of Turner. It was reported Lucas Giolito, Victor Robles and others were involved in a potential trade. MLB.com has Giolito and Robles listed as two of MLB's top 10 prospects. It has been reported that the Nats aren't interested in trading for another starter like White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana.
The closer position has been a question since the Chad Cordero days so it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later if I am GM Rizzo. Nats official consider themselves to not be apart in the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes as his demands are exceeding their comfortable level, according to major-league sources. Kenley Jansen isn't an ideal fit either as he is asking top dollar money like Chapman.
So with Melancon of course a Giant, Wade Davis traded to the Cubs, and Chapman/Jansen asking for a fortune what other closers are on the market?
Right-handed closer Alex Colome of the Tampa Bay Rays, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted that the Nats are in trade talks with the closer. Although no word on how serious those talks are. Colome, who has quality stuff will cost a pretty penny, but it may represent Washington's best option at this point.
The other position that is needed to be addressed is shortstop or centerfield. The Nats can be somewhat flexible here. If they add a shortstop that will certainly keep Trea Turner in center. However if they sign or acquire an outfielder like McCutchen or White Sox' Adam Eaton, that will move Turner back to his original shortstop position.
The circumstances the Nationals organization are in right now is in fact urgent to bring a title to the nation's capital. And the club not winning a postseason series since moving to Washington D.C. in its inaugural season in 2005, there is no time for Rizzo to second guess himself.
Your move Mike Rizzo.null