Washington Nationals: Starter Search Focused On Jorge De La Rosa, Zack Greinke.

Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo (L) holds up a jersey as he introduces Jayson Werth #28 to the media on December 15 2010 at Nationals Park in Washington DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Does D.C. GM Mike Rizzo regret boldly stating back in late September that the Nats' no.1 offseason goal was to add a top-of-the-rotation arm, getting NatsTown excited and prompting a discussion about who that pitcher would be that only ended this week with Matt Garza's trade to Chicago and the reports of Carl Pavano's negotiations with the Minnesota Twins? Probably not. When the Nats' 7-year/$126 million dollar deal with Jayson Werth was criticized as exorbitant, the Nationals' general manager told reporters including MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling who quoted Mr. Rizzo in an article entitled, "Rizzo: "I don't apologize for signing Jayson Werth", that he could, "...understand some of the comments, but we're taking care of ourselves. We're trying to build something special here, and we thought this player exemplified what we're trying to do. I don't apologize for Jayson Werth." The Nats got the outfielder they wanted. They knew they needed an elite arm with Stephen Strasburg likely lost for most of the season, but the search for a no.1-type starter proved more difficult than simply offering more years and money than anyone else as they had with their new right fielder...

One frustrated fan asked Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell in the most recent edition of his "Ask Boswell" chat series where the "new pitcher Rizzo promised us," was, and where the Nats' GM would find a top of the rotation arm at this point? Mr. Boswell's response: "That pitcher was Jorge de la Rosa AND Zack Greinke." The stress on the "AND" is Mr. Boswell's, and the WaPost writer goes on to say that, "...there were moments when, in talking with [Rizzo], it felt like he thought he had them both." De La Rosa reportedly turned down significant offers from other teams (including the Nationals) to return to Colorado, where he'd pitched for the previous three seasons after a trade from Kansas City. Greinke, now in Milwaukee, used his partial no-trade clause to block a deal to D.C. and turned down what was rumored to be a five-year/$90 million dollar extension. 

Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman told Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980's The Sports Fix in an early December interview that when it came to De La Rosa, the Nationals' owners were willling to spend what it woud have taken to acquire the 30-year-old, seven-year veteran left-hander, but, "It wasn't about money. We offered a lot of money to a pitcher [Jorge De La Rosa] who chose to resign in Colorado, so that wasn't about money, but we didn't get that player either." De La Rosa took a 2-year/$21.5 million dollar deal with a player option for a third year at $11M or a $1M dollar buyout when there were reportedly guaranteed 3-year deals (for $30 million+) on the table for the lefty, though how much Washington actually offered is unclear.

SI.com's Jon Heyman's sources, as quoted in a section of his article entitled, "Angels top teams with shopping left to do before spring training", told him the Nats were willing to give 27-year-old former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke a 5-year/$90 million dollar extension, or, "...something along the lines of $18 million annually on a long extension, believed to be for about five years," as Mr. Heyman put it. There's been no definitive word on the package of prospects the Nats were willing to give the Royals, but based on what Kansas City got it's easy to imagine what Rizzo was willing to part with in addition to the $90 million dollar extension the Nats reportedly offered in order to get Greinke.

The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell wrote that Rizzo, "worked about 90 hours in a five day period just on Greinke," and a rumor Mr. Boswell said he had to "check out" had it that, "Greinke fired his agent in the middle of the negotiations/talks with the Nats after MLB gave them permission to talk to Greinke and everything blew up. Then, with a new Greinke agent, the Brewer deal went down." "The Nats stood on their heads for days trying to convince," Greinke to come to the nation's capital," Mr. Boswell wrote recently in an article entitled, "Adam LaRoche signing shows Washington Nationals now know nothing is free", but Greinke chose Milwaukee over D.C. 

As for the rest of the Winter, the WaPost's Mr. Boswell says, "Also, besides a possible Garza trade," which hadn't yet occurred when the chat took place, "...don't underestimate Rizzo's ability to surprise everybody. When we talk about the available options, he's usually several steps ahead of me." Aside from a pitcher, which isn't likely to happen, Mr. Boswell says a utility infielder and a bullpen arm, "...with power stuff but not a lot of saves on his baseball card (which drives up the price)." Anyone out there on the market fit that bill? Or is Henry Rodriguez that addition? Are the Nationals done adding to their roster? The only news this weekend, oddly, was that the Nats aren't currently negotiating with David Eckstein...so he should sign soon?

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Nationals 360 with MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr and Francis Rose featured an interview with Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman on their weekly broadcast Sunday night, and when asked about the make-up of the 2010 rotation, the Nationals' manager said that with, "[Jordan] Zimmermann coming back and hopefully being healthy from day one. [John] Lannan pitching more like he did in the year nine and pitching more like he did in the second half of the year ten. I think that would be huge for us if those two guys can do that. [Livan Hernandez] has been a solid guy. I think what we're really going to be looking at is a couple of those last spots, [Yunesky] Maya, [Ross] Detwiler, [Jason] Marquis, those guys have got to show us a little more..." You can hear the entire interview HERE. The hosts also talk to Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro to get his thoughts on Adam LaRoche's skills. 

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