Washington Nationals: Friday Rumor Roundup - Center Fielder Search, Pitcher Chatter.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals makes a catch in the outfield during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Nationals Park on July 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Washington Times' Amanda Comak, in a mid-June article entitled, "As the trade deadline approaches, why center field might not be at the top of the Nationals' needs list any longer", wrote that in spite of the chatter over the last two years about the Nats' interest in center fielders like the Twins' Denard Span, the Rays' B.J. Upton, the Angels' Peter Bourjos and pending free agents like the Braves' Michael Bourn, the Nationals weren't likely to pursue an outfielder at the trade deadline at the end of the month or this winter because the Nats, "... feel Bryce Harper can handle center field -- and can handle it long enough until one of the top outfield prospects they already have in the organization is ready to assume it."

With the Non-Waiver deadline now 11 days away, what ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is hearing supports what the Times' Ms. Comak reported over a month ago. In an article this afternoon, Mr. Stark writes that other teams he's heard from, "... report the Nationals haven't been focused on trying to deal for a center fielder before the deadline." The ESPN reporter adds that the Nationals are comfortable going forward with Bryce Harper in center, Michael Morse in left and Jayson Werth (who starts a rehab assignment tonight with Class-A Potomac) in right field once he returns from the broken wrist he suffered in May.

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote at the time that the Washington Times' Ms. Comak's article came out that he was still hearing that the Nats', "... No. 1 target in free agency is likely to be [Bourn]." ESPN.com's Mr. Stark's hearing the same, writing today that, "There has been speculation for months that the Nationals are gearing up for a major push to sign Michael Bourn."

Note: Two of the center field prospects in the Nats' system moved up in the organization yesterday, with 21-year-old 2011 1st Round pick Brian Goodwin (who put up a .324/.438/.542 line with 18 doubles, nine home runs and more walks, 43, than K's, 39, in 58 games and 266 PA's) moving from Class-A Hagerstown to Double-A Harrisburg, and Eury Perez (.300/.326/.343, 11 doubles, 26 stolen bases, seven walks and 53 K's in 81 games and 372 PA's at Double-A Harrisburg) making the jump to Triple-A Syracuse.

As for this July's deadline, Mr. Stark writes that the Nationals are focused on pitching, but not one of the big name arms being discussed like Ryan Dempster or Zack Greinke. An "executive" from another team tells the reporter the Nats are focused on looking for, "'... a veteran guy with a track record' but not 'a guy they'd have to give up a lot for -- more like a No. 4 or No. 5 starter.'"

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS), however, wrote on Twitter this morning that he's hearing the, "... #nationals said trying hard on dempster. #braves in, & #tigers may be, too. 1 gm still thinks #dodgers still favorite [though]." In an article on Thursday, Mr. Heyman wrote that though Los Angeles looked like the likely destination for the Cubs' veteran right-hander, "Washington, Atlanta and others were said to still be in the picture as of late Thursday night."

One other note: Another rumor that's been mentioned around here several times originated with former Nats' GM Jim Bowden, who wrote on ESPN.com on Wednesday that, "There have been rumors of a B.J. Upton for Michael Morse deal," but, he added, "that rumor has been denied by a Rays executive."

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