Washington Nationals: Out On Cliff Lee? In On Zack Greinke?

The Winter Meetings ended with some "What did he say exactly?" chatter centered around D.C. GM's final comments from Florida about the Nats' pursuit of free agent left-hander Cliff Lee, but Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore ended the discussion pretty definitively when he quoted an unnamed Nats source in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "The free agent dominoes fall with Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee", who said that the Nationals would go up to seven-years to meet the New York Yankees' offer to the 32-year-old starter, "...if hell freezes over." (ed. note - "Or is that just more obfuscation from the RZO's leak-free front office?") Still, when SI.com writer Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) wrote last night on Twitter that the, "favored #yankees have offered more $, 1 more guaranteed yr than #rangers. but c. lee liked texas, has 3rd team in mix," some held out hope that the Nats could be the wild card in the Rangers and Yankees' pursuit of the old Expos' draft pick.

Not so, Mr. Heyman wrote this morning on Twitter in response to a follower who asked if Washington was the "mystery" team which inevitably seems to emerge in each big free agent sweepstakes like this. "No, Nats aren't in Lee," Mr. Heyman wrote, but, "They are looking at Greinke [though]," as are the Brewers, Dodgers and Blue Jays and whichever team between the Rangers and Yankees loses out on Lee as the SI.com writer had reported earlier last night.

MLB.com's Bill Ladson retweeted a report out of Kansas City last night in which Royals beat writer Bob Dutton (@Royals_Report) reported that KC GM Dayton Moore was "in listen-only mode" saying, "I haven’t made one call to one organization asking them if they’re interested in Zack Greinke," but various reports have said other teams, including the Nationals, have made calls to the Royals, and quoted sources close to Greinke who say he's ready to move on.

The problem with trading for a front-line starter, as has been noted from the start of such talk, is reiterated in Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's story on the Nats' remaining in the mix for Carl Pavano, entitled, "Nationals still in on Carl Pavano', in which the WaPost writer says that whether it's the Royals and Greinke or the Tampa Bay Rays and Matt Garza, any trade, "...would almost certainly require giving up shortstop Ian Desmond and probably Jordan Zimmermann, too, along with other players." Creating new holes by filling others.

• Random Notes: Navegantes de Magallanes catcher Jesus Flores had a tough start to last night's Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional game against the Bravos de Margarita, comitting a throwing error and grounding into an inning-ending double play to leave the Nats' catcher 0 for 3 after six innings, though he did manage to connect for a one-out single in the top of the ninth before a game-ending DP left him 1 for 4 with a .360/.396/.520 slash line after 14 games and 50 at bats. Wilson Ramos was 1 for 4 with a run scored last night in VWL action, and the Nats' catcher is now hitting .313 with a .368 OBP and a .513 SLG after 29 games and 115 at bats for the Tigres de Aragua. For anyone following the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano this winter, Elvin Ramirez, the Nats' first Rule 5 selection from the Mets' organization, is pitching for the Gigantes del Cibao, where the 23-year-old 6'3'' right-hander is (1-1) with a 2.14 ERA in 16 relief appearances and 21.0 IP in which he's given up 16 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned and 4 walks while recording 26 K's. 

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