Are you ready for some rumors? It's time for the Winter Meetings, which start Monday at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas. As of now there's no big surprise deal like the one the Washington Nationals and Jayson Werth agreed to last year on the eve of the official start of MLB's Hot Stove season. The Nats are, however, mentioned just about everywhere you look this afternoon. The NL East's 3rd place finishers in 2011 have been brought up in discussions about free agent left-handers C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle as well as first baseman Prince Fielder.
SI.com's Jon Heyman, on the Twitter (@SI_JonHeyman) wrote this afternoon that as the Winter Meetings begin, "Others teams [are] viewing #Nationals as early favorite for C.J. Wilson. Wash, Tor, Miami seen as probable big spenders at meetings." This follows up on reports earlier this week by the SI.com writer in which he said he was, "hearing the #Nationals are going to push for C.J. Wilson. They want a lefty, and apparently that's their top target."
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's sources tell him that Mark Buehrle's at the top of the Nats' wish list, as he reported again this afternoon in an article entitled, "Nats, Marlins, Rangers after Buehrle." The Nationals are known to have visited Buehlre recently in his St. Louis home, and Mr. Rosenthal writes that, "The Nationals, Marlins and Rangers are the most aggressive teams on free-agent left-hander Mark Buehrle, according to major-league sources."
"All three clubs also are pursuing free-agent lefty C.J. Wilson," the bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter notes, "but the Nats would prefer Buehrle on a shorter deal to Wilson on a longer one, sources said." ESPN.com's Jayson Stark lists Washington as a "Team To Watch" in his own Hot Stove preview entitled, "Big deals at winter meetings in Big D?", in which he writes that the Nats, "... are aggressively chasing starting pitching (Buehrle?) and a center fielder (Cespedes?), and keep getting linked to [Prince] Fielder despite denials from Nationals execs that they're actively involved."
The Nationals are one of seven teams that have shown interest in soon-to-be-free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes according to Mr. Stark. As for Prince Fielder, the ESPN.com writer is just the latest reporter to tie the Nats to the Milwaukee Brewers' hard-hitting first baseman. Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo, in his own Hot Stove preview this morning mentioned Coco Crisp and B.J. Upton as potential solutions for the Nats' center field issues and noted Washington's interest in, "... a back-of-the-rotation veteran starter," before adding that, "There are always Fielder rumors associated with the Nats."
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote last week in an article entitled, "Nats show interest in Fielder, Cespedes", that Fielder is actually, "...the Nationals’ primary target, at least among offensive players," with Cespedes a potential "Plan B" and pitchers C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and Roy Oswalt all on Washington's radar. Mr. Rosenthal's colleague at FOXSports, Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi), reported on the Twitter late this afternoon that the, "#Nats among the clubs still interested in Yoenis Cespedes, source says. But that could be affected by other FAs (Buehrle, Wilson, Prince)."
Mark Buehrle, at least according to Chicago Sun Times' writer Joe Cowley's (@CST_Cowley) sources, has three offers on the table. "Three teams have the money and the three years on the table," Mr. Cowley wrote this afternoon. Are the Nats one of the three? The speculation earlier this winter was that it would take a 4-year/$56M dollar deal to land Buehrle. C.J. Wilson and his agent are rumored to be seeking a 6-year/$120 million dollar deal. Prince Fielder and agent Scott Boras reportedly want 8-years and $200 million. Yoenis Cespedes reportedly wants more than the $30M+ fellow Cuban free agent Aroldis Chapman received from the Cincinnati Reds. Then there's Yu Darvish...we'll talk Darvish some more when he actually decides to post.
The Winter Meetings start tomorrow, but the Hot Stove's already warming up.