Washington Nationals: No.1 Starter Search - Carl Pavano?

Cliff Lee. Check. Yu Darvish? Check. Javier Vazquez. Check. Jorge De La Rosa. Carl Pavano...Carl Pavano? Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore confirmed the Washington Nationals' interest in the free agent right-hander in an article this week entitled, "Nationals have discussions with Carl Pavano", in which he wrote simply that a source was telling him that, "The Nationals are one of 'six or eight' teams to have engaged in preliminary discussions with Minnesota Twins free agent starting pitcher Carl Pavano." Cliff Lee, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo has acknowledged, is not likely to sign with Washington. Yu Darvish opted to stay in Japan for another year. Javier Vazquez was busy yesterday telling the Florida Marlins the same thing he told the Washington Nationals three weeks back in an article by MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The Nats are one of three teams in on former Rockies' lefty Jorge De La Rosa, at least according to Denver Post writer Troy Renck, who wrote on Twitter (@TroyRenck) that the, "The Nationals, Pirates, Orioles are among most aggressive with De La Rosa. Brewers are not in the mix." The Brewers, however, and the Nats, were identified last night by Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo (@NickCafardo) as two teams in the Pavano pursuit, tweeting that, "#Milwaukee and #Washington out front in Carl Pavano sweepstakes."

A 1994 13th Round pick by the Boston Red Sox out of Southington High School in Connecticut, Pavano was dealt (along with RHP Tony Armas) to the Montreal Expos in November of 1997 after four years in the Red Sox' system in a deal that sent right-hander Pedro Martinez from Montreal to Boston (and eventually one day the Hall of Fame). Pavano would make his major league debut in 1998 and after four seasons in Stade Olympique, he was dealt to the Florida Marlins where he helped bring the Fish their second World Series title in 2003. After an '04 campaign which saw Pavano finish (18-8) with a 3.00 ERA (137 ERA+), 3.54 FIP, 5.63 K/9 and +4.4 WAR, the then-27-year-old free agent starter signed with the New York Yankees, for whom he'd make just 26 starts and pitch 145.2 innings over the course of his 4-year/$39.95 million dollar deal.

Pavano missed the entire 2006 season with a variety of injuries that damaged his reputation in some circles. In 2007, Pavano made just two starts for the Yankees before he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery which kept him out of the Majors til August of 2008. When he returned to the mound for New York, Pavano made seven starts before he was granted free agency that winter and signed with Cleveland. The Indians traded Pavano to Minnesota in August of 2009 and the righty accepted arbitration from the Twins the following winter and was awarded a one-year/$7M dollar deal, surprising many with a (17-11) 2010 season in which he posted a 3.75 ERA (111 ERA+), with a 4.02 FIP, 4.76 K/9 and 1.51 BB/9 over 32 starts and 221.0 IP as a 34-year-old in his 12th MLB season. 

Does a soon-to-be-35-year-old right-hander make sense for the Nationals now? In a surprisingly frank interview with Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore this week entitled, "The Nationals' search for a top starter won't be easy", Nats' General Manager Mike Rizzo, who'd said a no.1 starter was the main target this offseason, acknowledged the difficulty of doing so without, "...creat[ing] so many other holes in your ball club that it's not worth it," and though Mr. Kilgore wrote that Mr. Rizzo, "did not amend that goal," he did note that the GM, "...backed off slightly Tuesday evening in an interview," saying instead that "He will still chase the best pitchers available, but it will not be a wanton pursuit."

Bill James' 2011 projections have the mustachioed Pavano making 31 starts and throwing close to 200.0 innings in 2011 with an ERA and FIP over 4.00, 5.47 K/9 and 1.51 BB/9. In a tweet within the last twenty-four hours, SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) wrote that the, "#Twins seem very interested in retaining Pavano, who was great for them. He's said to want "[Ted] Lilly money.' ($33 mil, 3 yrs)." If that doesn't work out and he wants a one-year deal, maybe, but anything more than that doesn't make much sense for the Nationals...does it? 

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