ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Outfielder B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 25, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians' center fielder Grady Sizemore's name was mentioned as a potential solution for the Washington Nationals when everyone wondered where they'd finally find the top of the order outfielder they've said they want to add this winter. Sizemore's name, if reports this weekend are true, can be crossed off the list as he and his agent are reportedly pulling back from the market and negotiating with the team he's played for his entire eight-year major league career. Reestablishing himself on a one-year deal with the Indians seems to be the plan for Sizemore. How much sense the injured outfielder made for the Nats is debatable? Injuries have limited the 29-year-old one-time Montreal Expos' prospect to 210 games total in the last three seasons. Washington needs an everyday center fielder who can lead off and get on base. There aren't too many of them out there of course.
Asked in a press conference with reporters last month about the time Jayson Werth spent in center field late last season, and what he'd thought about last winter's big acquisition's performance there, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said he liked what he saw but would prefer Werth remain in right. "I thought he played very well defensively in center field," Rizzo said, "I think he's a very good defensive center fielder. In a perfect world I'd like to find a leadoff-type of on base percentage guy that could hit at the top of the lineup that could play center field and Jayson play right field. But the reason that we put him in center was to give us more options, because now knowing that Jayson can more than handle the center field position it obviously opens up a bigger pool of players that can play a corner position and Jayson go to the middle. But in a perfect world I'd like Jayson to be our right fielder."
Both Nats' skipper Davey Johnson in an interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner and the Nats' general manager in a more recent interview on MLB Network Radio, admitted that finding the center fielder/leadoff man they want on the free agent market is going to be difficult. "I don't foresee us doing that in the free agent market," Johnson said. The Nationals' general manager said that though the Nationals know what they want and, "... do have to solve the center field situation," he thought, "... that would probably come from a trade from our depth, our minor league depth or major-league-ready players."
"We see that there are some good values out there and there's some extremely talented players in the free agent market," Rizzo explained, "We just have to decide if they're a good fit for us? If the timeline works? If the age of the player works? What do we have in the minor leagues that could fulfill that position in a year or so? Those are all decisions that each individual club has to make."
Has Roger Bernadina been given his last chance to make it as the Nats' center fielder? How long until Bryce Harper's ready? Eury Perez was just added to the 40-Man Roster, but hasn't played above high-A ball yet. 2010 Nats' Minor League Player of the Year, power-hitting 1B/OF Tyler Moore's 24, spent the year at Double-A and has been playing in the outfield some as Director of Player Development Doug Harris told MASN's Byron Kerr in October. Corey Brown? The Nationals were asking all the same questions when they discussed deals at last July's deadline.
The much-rumored deal with Minnesota which was said to have focused on injured (concussion) outfielder Denard Span coming to Washington with Nats' relievers and infield prospects going to Minnesota is reportedly no longer a possibility. After the trade deadline passed without a deal that many predicted would happen, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark spoke to an "executive of one club" who explained that the Twins, "... thought they had a chance to win, and bullpen was the one thing they thought they really needed,'" but, "'... once that deal fell through, they'll be dealing with a different set of circumstances [next offseason]. That same sense of urgency won't be there in the winter.'"
Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore confirmed as much when he spoke to Twins' GM Terry Ryan at the recently-concluded GM Meetings, writing in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Nationals GM Mike Rizzo lays groundwork in trade for a center fielder, says his players are drawing interest", that Mr. Ryan, "... indicated he is not willing to trade Span or Ben Revere, another speedy outfielder." SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) mentioned the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore's report on the Twitter this afternoon when he wrote, "Twins gm terry ryan told adam kilgore of wash post span and revere aren't going anywhere. Bj upton remains #nats CF possibility."
Upton's name has been tied to the Nationals for two years now. ESPN.com's Buster Olney, in discussing possible destinations for Sizemore late in October suggested that Rays are, "... expected to at least listen to offers for B.J. Upton -- and probably trade him," this offseason while some have suggested he's a non-tender candidate who could then be signed as a free agent (and others have laughed off the idea of the Rays' non-tendering Upton.) Cuban free agent outfield Yoennis Cespedes is reportedly on the Nats' (and every team's) radar, but accompanying reports this weekend that he'll establish residency in the Dominican Republic so he'll be available as an international free agent soon were reports that the outfielder wants a BIG deal from the MLB team that signs him.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, who covers the Miami Marlins, reported this weekend that the Fish had seen Cespedes work out in the Dominican Republic this week and Mr. Frisaro wrote that sources told him the outfielder, "... could be seeking more than double [Aroldis] Chapman’s [$30.25M] salary over eight years," though, "technically, no negotiations can take place until after he is declared a free agent." 8-years/$60M? Really? The Nats' search continues...