The Nationals Step Back From The Warming Hot Stove...
After offering both Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano arbitration yesterday, the Atlanta Braves have apparently signed left-handed closer Billy Wagner to what FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday night, in an article entitled, "Source: Braves, closer Wagner agree to deal", is a, "...one-year, $7 million contract with a vesting option for a second season." Mr. Rosenthal's "major-league source" also says that though either Gonzalez and Soriano, "...could accept one-year, non-guaranteed," deals to stay in Atlanta, "...both are drawing strong multi-year interest from other clubs."
MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Pitching the focus for Nats at Meetings", writes that the Nationals are probably not one of the teams expressing "multi-year interest" in either Gonzalez or Soriano, noting that fans shouldn't expect Washington to "...break the bank like they tried to do with first baseman Mark Teixeira during last year's Winter Meetings," :
"It's likely that Rizzo will make trades. So signing starter John Lackey or relievers Billy Wagner or Mike Gonzalez seem unlikely, unless they agree to a deal in Washington's price range."
Mr. Ladson quotes the DC GM explaining the Nationals' approach this winter, as he says:
"'We don't think that the free-agent class leads us to [pay big money],' Rizzo said. 'I believe the things we need or want the most are out there, and we are going to address it.'"
Though he doesn't mention the names of any relievers the Nationals could potentially trade for, according to Mr. Ladson's "baseball sources", adding a veteran starter to the Nationals' rotation is still a priority, and, "...the Nats have interest in Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco," a soon-to-be 27-year-old right-hander who is a combined (28-17) in the last two seasons, having collected 381 K's in 397.1 IP for Florida.
Mr. Ladson also writes in his article that, "As of now, it appears Washington will go into next season with Ian Desmond as its starting shortstop." FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi in their article entitled, "Latest buzz from the MLB offseason", write that Orlando Cabrera could have a tough time finding a new home this winter, identifying the Nationals as one of three teams, (along with the Tigers and Reds), who have interest in acquiring a SS, but, "...probably do not view (Cabrera) as an upgrade." Mr.'s Rosenthal and Morosi do note, however, that Orlando Hudson, whose name has surfaced several times in the last few years in connection with Washington, was not offered salary arbitration by the LA Dodgers, and thus, could be signed without the team that inks him losing compensatory draft picks...
The Nationals declined to offer any of their free agents arbitration, announcing on Tuesday, as reported in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Nats elect to not offer arbitration", that it most likely means the end of Josh Bard, Livan Hernandez, Austin Kearns and Dmitri Young's time in DC, though he does mention that left-handed reliever Ron Villone, "...is arguably the only free agent who has a chance of coming back to the organization."