Wire Taps: 2011 MLB Winter Meetings - Washington Nationals Still Want Starter, Center Fielder...

SEATTLE - JULY 29: B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays advances to third base in the second inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 29, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Rays defeated the Mariners 8-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The news out of Dallas, Texas' Hilton Anatole on Monday afternoon was that the Washington Nationals would consider going with Jayson Werth in center if they couldn't find the center fielder they've been searching for this winter. Asked for a review of Werth's work in center in late 2011 in an interview with the D.C. press corps this past October, Rizzo told reporters, "I thought [Werth] played very well defensively in center field. 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."

"The team continues to have interest in signing Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes or dealing for a player such as B.J. Upton of the Rays or Denard Span of the Twins," MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote in an article entitled, "Werth could shift to center field next season", but Minnesota reportedly doesn't want to trade Span anymore and the price in players for Upton and cash for Cespedes could prove prohibitive. MASNSports.com's Pete Kerzel (@KerzelPete) reported this morning on Twitter that, "According to team source, #Nationals remain 'fixated' on leaving Dallas Winter Meetings with a new CF," and had even reached out to the Yankees to see if New York would consider moving Brett Gardner only to be "rebuffed" as he put it.

Then, of course, B.J. Upton's name came up again, with FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi) writing on Twitter that a source told him the, "Nats and Rays have had recent conversations about B.J. Upton." ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) wrote recently on the Twitter that the "Rays [were] telling teams they will talk about BJ Upton but have to be overwhelmed to move him." Upton's available as a free agent after this season and a potential non-tender candidate as soon as next week, (though no one in Tampa Bay seems to think he'll be non-tendered) so it's not surprising the Nationals might not want to give up what the Rays are likely seeking in return. And it might benefit them to wait and see what the Rays do since as St. Petersburgh Times' writer John Romano argued recently, changes in the new CBA might make Tampa Bay more willing to trade B.J. Upton this winter.

• Latest Tweets - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post (@AdamKilgoreWP): "On talks with Rays about Upton, Rizzo said, "I don't think anything has changed on that front."

• h/t at to Andrew Kinback ( aka @NatsNQ) and @R_J_Anderson on Twitter for reminding me of the following report which we wrote about in July which touches on what the Rays might want for Upton:

ESPN.com's Keith Law, in an article entitled, "Daily Rumble: The Carlos Beltran market", before the deadline passed without the Washington Nationals finding the center fielder/leadoff man they'd searched for, wrote that while the Nats were interested in B.J. Upton, "...there are indications [the Nationals] balked at dealing two pitchers the Rays are believed to have asked about: Ross Detwiler and the much-coveted Brad Peacock."

• Shark = J-Max?:

When 27-year-old Nats' outfielder Roger Bernadina, who finished the 2011 season with a .243/.301/.362 slash in 91 games and 337 plate appearances, failed to secure either part of a platoon role in left or the starting job in center last season, some started to wonder if he'd been given his last opportunity to claim a role in Washington's outfield. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (@JCrasnick) wrote this afternoon that the, "Nationals are letting teams know Roger Bernadina is available in trade. Raw but toolsy OF with some upside. Still only 27." According to Mr. Crasnick, MASN's Pete Kerzel is right, the Nats want to leave Texas with a center fielder, "#Nationals have talked to Rays about B.J. Upton and scouted Yoenis Cespedes in the Dominican. They're going to add a new CF.

MASN's Steve Melewski (@MASNSteve) wrote this afternoon that the O's would consider trading their center fielder, 26-year-old Adam Jones, but soon after he wrote that, FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi) reported that, "#Orioles telling teams that Adam Jones is off limits." That was a small window of opportunity...

• Back to Buehrle:

Reports out of Dallas this afternoon said soon-to-be-former White Sox' lefty Mark Buehrle had narrowed the list of teams he was considering to five. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's sources told him that the Nationals were one of those teams and ex-D.C. GM Jim Bowden (JimBowdenESPNxm) said from what he'd heard, it, "Sounds like Rangers & Nats are most serious and most realistic destinations for Buehrle based on source...but with 5 teams left u never know." On his own MLB Network Radio show, Bowden said Buehrle's intrigued by the Rangers' owner Nolan Ryan.

• Latest Tweets - Amanda Comak, Washington Times (@AComak): "#nats GM Mike Rizzo said that when he met in-person w/ Mark Buehrle at his home he felt there was a 'connection' and great mutual interest."

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