Washington Nationals: Important Dates, Post 2011 MLB Winter Meetings Notes.

The talk of B.J. Upton potentially being non-tendered was laughed off by Rays fans and it's not even mentioned as a possibility these days (Yahoo!Sports.com's team report says he's an obvious "Yes" to be tendered a contract before the December 12, 2011 deadline.) Talk of the 27-year-old outfielder, (who is arbitration eligible; due a raise to around $7-8M; and a free agent after the 2012 season), being traded came up once again during the just-concluded Winter Meetings, with the Washington Nationals reportedly revisiting talks with Tampa Bay. Early in the week, reports out of Dallas, Texas' Hilton Anatole from St. Petersburgh Times' Rays beat writer Marc Tompkin noted that the Rays were looking to add rather than subtract offense, so, he wrote "... it seems unlikely the Rays would deal [Upton] since they are seeking to improve their offense."

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) put Upton on a list of potential targets for the Nationals this past week and his colleague at FOXSports.com, Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi), reported that Tampa Bay and Washington were talking about a trade again, but MLB.com's Bill Chastain too wrote in an article on Monday entitled, "Winter Meetings Kicking Off", that, "Based on what [Rays' GM] Andrew Friedman has said — the team is looking to add offense — I don’t expect the Rays to be actively shopping their center fielder."

"Rays telling teams they will talk about BJ upton but have to be overwhelmed to move him," ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote on the Twitter (@Buster_ESPN).

"Trade interest in B.J. Upton has been mild so far. Just not a lot of teams with need for (and willingness to spend on) CF," FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi) wrote. When the Nats and Rays discussed a potential Upton deal this past July before the Non-Waiver deadline, ESPN.com's Keith Law reported that while the Nats were interested in Upton, "...there are indications [Washington] balked at dealing two pitchers the Rays are believed to have asked about: Ross Detwiler and the much-coveted Brad Peacock."

D.C. GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters about the discussions the Nats had with the Rays, but as Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak quoted the general manager stating earlier this week, "'I don’t think anything has changed on that front,'":

"'I don't like to talk about specifics, or hypotheticals but I don't think anything has changed on that front. We have a comfort level of the player and we know what value we would give up for him. What goes into that equation is of course control of a player, what the player makes and what player you're giving up to acquire them.'"

FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi) wrote earlier this week that soon-to-be-free agent Yoenis Cespedes, a 26-year-old Cuban outfielder who is establishing residency in the Dominican Republic is still a player of interest for the Nationals. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern that he'd only seen Cespedes in a workout, but, "Our scouts like [Cespedes]," the general manager said:

"They think he's a hit-and-power package that can play center field. He runs extremely well and he throws well. He has the chance to be a five-tool player, and a lot of the success and performance will be determined by how he adapts to the Americas and to the U.S. game and getting him ready for the major leagues is what it's all about. He may take a month or two in the minor leagues or a half-a-season in the minor leagues or he comes to Spring Training and turns it on and becomes a major league force right out of the gate."

The Washington Nationals were rumored to be one of seven or eight teams still interested in the outfielder as the Winter Meetings came to a close. Cespedes was still waiting to establish his residency in the Dominican Republic, a process which the outfielder's agent Adam Katz told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy could take a few days or possibly weeks to complete. "His Dominican residency is the first step," Mr. Katz said, "and then there's a formal petition to Major League Baseball and it shouldn't be a problem. And then at some point in the next -- could be five days, could be fifty-five days -- depending on red tape sort of stuff -- he should be unblocked and then we can begin the process."

• Speaking Of Timetables:

The posting process for 25-year-old Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish was laid out by FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi this afternoon:

@JonMorosi: "Darvish timeline: Bids due from MLB clubs by 5 pm ET on Wed, Dec. 14. Fighters must decide whether to accept by 5 pm ET on Tues, Dec. 20."

@JonMorosi: "If and when Fighters decide to accept bid, MLB club has 30 days from that point to sign Darvish."

So...This could go on to mid-January...

• Light, End, Tunnel:

It's hard to think ahead this far on December 10th, but the Nationals officially announced three important dates this morning via the team's official Twitter account @NationalsPR: "Nationals Spring Training: Pitchers/Catchers (2/19), Position Players (2/23), 1st full workout (2/25)." The Nationals' first exhibition game of 2012 is scheduled for Saturday March 3, 2012. The final exhibition game is to be played in Nationals Park on Tuesday, April 3rd, then the season opener in Chicago is April 5th at 2:20 pm EST.

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