Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Weekend Rumors - Derrek Lee, Carl Pavano?

In his weekly Sunday Baseball Notes column entitled, "Big 10 conference yields some early winners and losers", Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo asks a group of ten, "managers, coaches, general managers, and scouts" from around the league to pick the ten biggest offseason developments that could, "shift the balance of power", in baseball. The Washington Nationals' 7-year/$126 million dollar deal with outfielder Jayson Werth is no.7 on the list, behind both Cliff Lee's return to Philadelphia and the Atlanta Braves' intra-division acquisition of second baseman Dan Uggla. The Werth deal, however, is seen by Mr. Cafardo's panel as, "...an important signing for the organization because it signifies a willingness to spend money on major free agents." 

It can't stop there, however, "They have to 'finish' now," as Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell noted in the latest edition of his "Ask Boswell" chat series:

"You've [gone] the big-money path and sent a message that you want to get to .500, or close, in '11, then you miss on everything else? That doesn't work."

MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported this weekend in an article entitled, "Nats remain in mix as Pavano decision nears", that the soon-to-be-35-year-old free agent right-hander Carl Pavano is set to decide on a home for the 2011 season and beyond in the near future. The Boston Globe's Mr. Cafardo says the former and potentially future Twins' starter and top free agent arm remaining on the market, "...will hold out for three years," and eventually sign with, "Minnesota, Washington, Texas, [or] possibly Seattle if it can free up some money."  

31-year-old right-hander Brandon Webb reportedly agreed on a deal with the Texas Rangers Sunday afternoon, after he'd once been considered a possibility for the Nats. The Nationals attempted to sign Rockies' lefty Jorge De La Rosa, let Cliff Lee know they were interested just in case (though the WaPost's Mr. Boswell said in a 12/16 chat that D.C. GM Mike Rizzo and the Nats, "were never interested in Cliff Lee," just doing their due diligence), and tried to trade for Zack Greinke who used his no-trade clause to block a move to D.C. 

MASNSports.com's Phil Wood reported Sunday that the Nationals are close to filling one of the big holes in their lineup. In an article entitled, "Nationals' opening at first base could be filled this week", Mr. Wood wrote that club sources were telling him the Nats would sign a first baseman this week. The MASNSports' writer's sources tell him the Nats did try to trade for Dodgers' first baseman James Loney earlier this Winter, but now, "Negotiations with Derrek Lee are pretty close on a one-year deal, but he's also being sought by the Orioles, as is Adam LaRoche." MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote on 12/17 in an article entitled, "Nationals targeting Lee to fill first-base void", that Casey Kotchman could be a third option if they fail to sign LaRoche or Lee, and Mr. Wood's sources say the same and he adds that it would only be, "...as a fallback option to platoon with Michael Morse."

The Nationals have spent more money this offseason than anyone in baseball but the Boston Red Sox as MLBTraderumors.com's Ben Nicholson-Smith wrote last week, but the Sox signed, "Carl Crawford ($142.0M), picked up David Ortiz's option ($12.5M), inked former White Sox' closer Bobby Jenks ($12.0M), added reliever Dan Wheeler ($3.0M), re-signed Jason Varitek ($2.0M), and re-upped reliever Scott Atchison ($455K). The Nats signed Jayson Werth ($126M), added recovering right-hander Chien-Ming Wang ($1M+) and inked outfielder Rick Ankiel ($1.5M) to a team that lost 93 games last season, lost Adam Dunn to free agency, traded Josh Willingham away and has yet to add any starting pitching though they've lost Stephen Strasburg and had identified top of the rotation help as a major need earlier this winter. The Nats did, however, add a power arm in the bullpen and an outfield prospect in the Willingham deal. The addition of Werth, as the Washington Post's Mr. Boswell wrote in his chat, "...was a vital first step. But it only makes sense if they make more steps. And they have been thwarted so far."

They're still in on Pavano, and still talking to first basemen. Will the Washington Nationals be able to add what they need this week or at all this winter? The latest rumors out there have the Nats focused on D. Lee, with LaRoche looking for a long-term deal, but the Orioles and Rays are still looking for first base help too, though St. Petersburgh Times' writer Marc Topkin says Tampa Bay will make a move (possibly a trade) after Lee and LaRoche sign. Once they add a first baseman...are the Nats done? When they promised Jayson Werth they'd surround him with talent, did they say it would be right away...?

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