Wire Taps: Washington Nationals At The 2011 MLB Winter Meetings - Mark Buehrle Eliminates Options, Gio Gonzalez? Nats?

• Are Nats 1 of 3?: The big news out of the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX this afternoon is that left-handed free agent Mark Buehrle has narrowed his list from five to three teams today with (as the Nats' GM predicted) a decision to come soon and possibly before the Winter Meetings end. Nats beat reporters, tweeting about the developments haven't yet learned if the Nationals are one of the three teams remaining in the mix, though they were reportedly one of the final five. Former D.C. GM Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenESPNxm) was the first to report on Buehrle trimming his list, but MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats), Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) and the Washington Times' Amanda Comak (@AComak) confirmed that they'd heard Buehrle was down to three teams too, though there's no word yet on if the Nats are one of the three.

Updates when they are available...

• Nat Gio?: If the Washington Nationals are actually interested in 26-year-old Oakland A's left-hander Gio Gonzalez, they're entering a crowded field of suitors...

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) wrote on the Twitter this afternoon that his sources are telling him you can, "Add #Nationals to list of teams pursuing #Athletics' Gonzalez. Also known to be in: #Tigers #Reds #DBacks #Phillies #Marlins." There were mixed messages early, with some saying Gonzalez would be dealt this winter at the same time as some writers like SI.com's Jon Heyman (JonHeyman) tweeted on Day One of the Winter Meetings on Monday, that the interest in Gonzalez might be one-sided, "Two AL execs say they like Gio Gonzalez best among pitchers possibly available. GM [Billy] Beane telling teams not anxious to trade."

According to various reports, the A's are looking for a significant return if they do listen to offers for Gonzalez, who finished the 2011 season (his fourth in the majors) in Oakland with a (16-12) record, 3.12 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 91 walks (4.05 BB/9) and 197 K's (8.78 K/9) in 202.0 IP. The left-hander was originally a Chicago White Sox' '04 1st Round pick (38th overall), but he was dealt to the Phillies in '05 as the PTBNL with left-hander Daniel Haigwood and outfielder Aaron Rowand in the deal that sent Jim Thome to the Sox. The Phils dealt Gonzalez back to the Sox in '06 along with RHP Gavin Floyd for right-hander Freddy Garcia and in 2008 the A's acquired the lefty, right-hander Fautino De Los Santos and outfielder Ryan Sweeney in a trade for OF Nick Swisher. Gonzalez debuted in the majors with the A's that year.

Apart from the obvious reasons, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday that the left-hander's appeal lies in the fact that he's just now "... in his first year of arbitration eligibility and under club control for four more years." MLB.com writer Jane Lee speculated on Tuesday that the A's stadium issues could be what's leading them to consider dealing Gonzalez, speculating that Oakland might be considering the idea of, "... trading Gonzalez in an effort to net a handful of prospects that could welcome in fans to a potential new stadium in San Jose in a few years."

New York Post writer Joel Sherman (@JoelSherman1) reported on the Twitter yesterday that in order to pry Gonzalez away from the A's, "... [the] #Yankees probably would have do 3-way deal because Oak wants hi-end young OFs and NYY has none at Double-A or higher." Bob Klapisch, who writes for the Bergen Record and NorthJersey.com wrote that he'd heard the, "A's asked #Yankees for either [Manny] Banuelos or [Dellin] Betances, plus [Jesus] Montero for Gio Gonzalez. Not happening." ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand suggested the same sort of return this morning in an article entitled, "Trade Rumors: Gio, Betances, oh my."

Hard to imagine the Nats being able to put together the sort of package being talked about at the Winter Meetings, especially after reading NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman's article yesterday entitled, "Rizzo unlikely to trade away big leaguers", in which he quoted the Nats' GM saying he, "... prefers to deal from his growing stable of minor-league talent at this point." High-end young outfielders? Not exactly the biggest sort of depth in the Nats' system right now. Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak (@AComak) responded to the original tweet about the Nats' interest in Gonzalez shortly after Mr. Rosenthal sent it, writing on the Twitter that she had, "Presented Gio Gonzalez's name to one source & he didn't exactly jump at it. Teams are kicking tires on just about everyone out there."

Make your decision already Buehrle...so the Nats can move on to signing Prince Fielder...fwiw, USAToday writer Bob Nightengale said on MLB Network Radio this morning that he thought the Nats were in the mix for the first baseman. Are they one of the Final Three for Buehrle?

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