Nationals "Reluctant" To Part With Top Pick In 2014 MLB Draft

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals gave up their top pick last winter when they signed free agent closer Rafael Soriano, but Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore tonight that he would be relucant to give up their first round pick this season.

Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo talked during Rafael Soriano's introductory press conference last winter about making the tough decision to forfeit the Nats' 1st Round pick, the 29th overall selection, in order to sign the 33-year-old closer to a 2-year/$28M dollar free agent deal.

"We felt that where we were picking and the talent pool that was out there and the chance to acquire a talent such as Rafael [Soriano] it was a good time for us to forfeit the pick." - Nats' GM Mike Rizzo after signing Rafael Soriano

"The draft pick's important," Rizzo told reporters, "but picking at the end of the draft like we are this year, we examined the draft pool this year and we felt that where we were picking and the talent pool that was out there and the chance to acquire a talent such as Rafael it was a good time for us to forfeit the pick."

The Nationals' first draft pick last June came in the second round, the 68th overall selection, which they used on 6'6'' right-hander Jake Johansen. Nats' Assistant GM Roy Clark, who left the organization for LA today, explained after the first day of the 2013 Draft that the team was comfortable with the decision to give up the top pick to sign Soriano. "We feel like [Johansen is] a great second round pick," Clark said. "And we feel that Rafael Soriano is a great first round pick."

Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore talked to the Nationals' General Manager today at the GM Meetings in the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. As the WaPost writer reported on Twitter, Rizzo is reluctant to part with this year's top pick, the 20th overall selection:

Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda, Ervin Santana, Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury are among the 13 players who received and turned down 1-year/$14.1M qualifying offers from their respective 2013 teams. Each of the 13 players are now tied to draft pick compensation, with the team that signs them losing their first-round picks (unless they're in the top 10) and the team that loses the FA getting a pick at the end of the opening round of the 2014 Draft.

Among the free agents who received qualifying offers, only Ellsbury has been mentioned in connection to the Nationals this winter with CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reporting that in spite of the presence of center fielder and leadoff man Denard Span on the Nats' roster, "sources suggest they may still consider Ellsbury."

Other rumored targets like Matt Garza (who was traded last year and thus couldn't be given a qualifying offer), Masahiro Tanaka, an international free agent, Max Scherzer and David Price (who'd have to come via trade) could be acquired without costing the Nationals their top pick.

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