D.C. GM Mike Rizzo thinks that the Nats have the prospects to pull off a trade for a starter this winter. He's said so since the season ended, telling reporters including Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, who quoted the general manager in a late September Nationals Journal post entitled, "Nationals, Mike Rizzo want to acquire outfielder, starting pitching this offseason", that he thought, "'Our pitching depth is the best I’ve seen since I’ve been around here, since the Lerners acquired the team. We certainly would discuss trades to fill some of our needs, if the trade makes sense.'"
Not that Washington's front office wasn't happy with the pitchers they had, Rizzo would reiterate in a late-October discussion with the D.C. press corps, but, "...we're always looking to upgrade and to improve our rotation," Rizzo said, "What we're trying to do via free agency or on the trade market, international market, would be to improve our rotation and we're always looking to upgrade."
The Nationals made a play for Mark Buehrle, but the 32-year-old left-hander opted to sign in Miami for more money and a year more than Washington was reportedly willing to offer. Sources from the nation's capital reported that the Nationals had decided not to enter into the posting process that could eventually end with Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish pitching in the majors next season, so there was no drama for Nats fans Monday night when the team that won the bidding for the 25-year-old starter was announced.
While the Texas Rangers were revealed as the winners and highest bidders for Darvish with a $51.7M dollar posting fee, the talk in the nation's capital was about a rumored discussion between the Oakland A's and Nationals involving 26-year-old left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote about the interest in the '04 1st Round pick (38th overall) who finished the 2011 season with a (16-12) record in 32 starts and 202.0 IP in which he had a 3.12 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 91 walks (4.05 BB/9) and 197 K's (8.78 K/9) in an article during the Winter Meetings entitled, "A's Gonzalez hottest lefty at meetings", in which he pointed out that Gonzalez had a number of suitors in large part because he's young and controllable, "... in his first year of arbitration eligibility and under club control for four more years."
The FOXSports.com writer listed the Tigers, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Reds and Phillies as teams his sources said had interest in Gonzalez and added that, "Other clubs including the Blue Jays, Nationals, Red Sox, Rangers and Rockies," who were in the market for pitching would no doubt show interest this winter. Monday night, Mr. Rosenthal, in an article entitled, "Nats working hard to land Gonzalez", reported that the Nats and A's were discussing what he said on Twitter (@Ken_Rosenthal) was a 4-for-1 deal for the lefty, though he wrote that the Marlins, Red Sox and Rangers were still in the market along with the Nationals.
Will the Nationals be able to make a deal with the A's? They've come up empty-handed thus far in their search for a center fielder and a starter, but Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote this morning in a chat with WaPost readers that the Nats, "... really wanted Buehrle. But not at $56m/4yr, even if he'd have come. They were NEVER as high on anybody else...They were never interested in [Albert] Pujols, [Prince] Fielder, CJ Wilson, Darvish or [Yoenis] Cespedes at the price(s) that were being paid this winter." The Nats' GM has, however, clearly stated that he's willing to deal for the starter or outfielder the Nationals want if the right deal is there, while noting that they're perfectly comfortable going into the season with what they have.
A's GM Billy Beane's likely in no hurry to make a deal either. The Rangers taking Yu Darvish off the market for the year, regardless of whether or not they agree on a deal, only increased Oakland's leverage with other teams desperate for pitching this Winter. How much is a top-of-the-rotation arm to go along with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann worth to the Nats' GM? How desperate are the Blue Jays now, after missing out on Darvish? How desperate are the Yankees to bolster their rotation? Can the Nationals put together a package to rival what the rest of the interested teams can offer? Are there any other top-of-the-rotation arms out there?