Anyone who followed the Washington Nationals-related Prince Fielder rumors this winter knows exactly how much faith to put in the "they are the favorites" reports that come out in the press. The Nats, who were tied to the big slugging first baseman by sources all winter, emerged as the "favorites" for Fielder right before he signed on for the next nine years with the Detroit Tigers. Were the Nats the top team in the hunt before the AL Central's Tigers got involved? D.C. GM Mike Rizzo has since said that the Nationals remained in the pursuit until it no longer made sense for Washington, and were in on Fielder until "very close" to the time that he signed with Detroit. Adam LaRoche will (health permitting) be the Nats' first baseman in 2012. Fielder will play for the Tigers. Whether they were favorites for Fielder at the point those reports emerged, who knows?
When the Nationals were discussing deals for their last big slugging first baseman, Adam Dunn, in late July of 2010, several teams were discussed as suitors, with the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays mentioned as potential destinations for the then-31-year-old middle of the order bat. While deals with the White Sox involving one or more of RHP Daniel Hudson, infielders Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo and after they acquired him, Edwin Jackson, were rumored, New York Post writer Joel Sherman spoke to an unnamed baseball executive as the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline approached who said the White Sox were out of the running with Tampa Bay emerging as the favorite to land Dunn.
Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote yesterday, in an article entitled, "Nationals spring training: Time to deal with Ryan Zimmerman", that the Nats' GM had a trade with the Rays lined up that would have sent Dunn to Tampa Bay for then-21-year-old '07 8th Round pick Matt Moore, who's since emerged as one of in not the best pitching prospects in baseball. The WaPost baseball writer had also written in an October 2010 chat that sources told him, "Rizzo wanted to trade Dunn and had a deal worked out for Edwin Jackson, who ended up with the White Sox. So, yes, the rumors at the time were correct. However, Kasten and the Lerners didn't want to do the deal and killed it. Partly bad PR. In Kasten's case, he really believed, and still does, that it's crazy not to resign Dunn."
After the 2010 Trade Deadline passed, White Sox' GM Ken Williams, who'd reportedly acquired Edwin Jackson from the D-Backs in order to include him in a deal with Washington, was said to be angry with the way the Nationals had handled the situation with ESPN.com's Keith Law tweeting that he'd, "Heard from an exec not involved in the discussions that the White Sox are furious with the Nats over Edwin Jackson." Rizzo told reporters after no deal materialized that though he wasn't, "... going to comment on any single player. There was no player that we asked some team to acquire that we were going to trade Adam Dunn for." Did Rizzo have two separate deals on the table that were nixed by the Nationals' owners? The particular deals weren't what the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell was talking about in yesterday's article, however.
The subject of Mr. Boswell's story, and the reason he brought up the rumored deals that D.C. GM Mike Rizzo wasn't allowed to make, was the ongoing negotiations with the Nationals' 27-year-old third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The Washington Post reporter, as he did before the Gio Gonzalez trade happened, is calling on the Nationals' ownership to listen to the Nats' baseball people when it comes to extending Zimmerman, especially with all the young talent on the team watching to see how the so-called Face of the Franchise is treated.
The Nats' front office under Rizzo rebuilt the team's farm system, the Washington Post writer argues, they, "... swung trades like Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans and Ramos for Matt Capps," and had a deal in place with the Rays that would have landed the Nats one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. "When you have first-rate baseball experts, leave decisions to them — even $100 million ones," Mr. Boswell writes, implying that the Nats' baseball people want a deal with Zimmerman done. In a chat on Tuesday, the WaPost writer said more clearly that in this case, "The jam up, it seems, is once again above the heads of the baseball people."
"I suspect we'll see a big agent-Rizzo meeting this week, probably tomorrow," the Washington Post's Mr. Boswell wrote, "This NEEDS to get done NOW." Will it happen before Saturday's deadline?
Reports out of Florida today say that the Nationals' GM and Zimmerman are likely to meet again today, with the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore writing this afternoon in an article entitled, "Mike Rizzo on Ryan Zimmerman contract extension: ‘We’re still talking’", that Zimmerman's agent had previously planned on leaving Viera Thursday night, "... making today’s likely meeting the final chance for the sides to meet face-to-face before Saturday." Will the Nationals and Zimmerman agree on a deal this week, or will this story drag on throughout this season?