Weeks before B.J. Upton signed with the Atlanta Braves yesterday, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote that he thought Michael Bourn might be a better option for the Washington Nationals. The Nats are included in every discussion about the center field market, having made clear their interest in adding an outfielder if they can find the right fit, but most mentions of the Nationals this winter include caveats similar to the one Mr. Heyman offered in his 11/17 article on the Nats' plans.
"[The Nationals] have shown interest in both Bourn and Upton in the past," the CBSSports.com reporter noted, "As leadoff hitters, both players fit the Nats (Jayson Werth was their atypical yet effective leadoff hitter at the end of the 2012 season) but Bourn may fit slightly better. Washington isn't quite as set on adding an outfielder as Philly and Atlanta, two teams that need center fielders." The Braves got the center fielder they wanted Wednesday when they signed Upton to a 5-year/$75M dollar deal. Bourn's rumored to be after more money than Upton got from Atlanta with a deal in the $80-$100M dollar area bandied about in the press.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal suggested this morning that the nation's capital could still be a destination for one of the outfielders out there this winter, but he too noted that the Nats could just stick with [Bryce] Harper in CF this year (if the Nats sign Adam LaRoche and keep Michael Morse in left). They also have prospects like Brian Goodwin (who impressed in the AFL) in the organization, but Mr. Rosenthal wrote, "... rival executives suspect that if Bourn lingers on the market, the Nats again might strike a deal with [Scott] Boras, with whom they enjoy a strong relationship."
USA Today writer Bob Nightengale explores the relationship between the Nats and Boras in an article today in which he writes that due mainly to both Detroit and Washington's willingness to work with the super agent over the years, "... many agents and baseball executives believe [Michael] Bourn and [Rafael] Soriano might as well start getting fitted for their Nationals and Tigers uniforms, respectively, even without the start of formal contract negotiations." For the Nats at least, there's no mystery to their relationship with Boras. As Rizzo puts it in Mr. Nightengale's article, "You fish where the fish are."
Asked directly where the Nationals stand after Upton signed with Atlanta, the Nats' GM told 106.7 the FAN In D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning that the 2012 NL East Champs are still looking for a, "... dynamic type of... if possible... a guy who can play center field and lead off for us, [and] make [Bryce Harper] more comfortable in a corner outfield position which is where we see his future down the road. I think it takes a lot of stress off [Harper] physically and mentally playing that real important defensive position."
"So we're always in the market to look there," Rizzo said, "We have to watch the balance of our lineup. To get a left-handed hitter would help us more than a right-handed hitter. And we're also looking to help our depth in our starting rotation and to try to supplement and help our bullpen and make that stronger."
A dynamic, left-handed hitting, leadoff man/center fielder?