Asked about the Washington Nationals' interest in 25-year-old right-hander Masahiro Tanaka earlier this winter, an unnamed official within the organization that Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore talked to told him that the Nats, "...have scouted Tanaka in Japan on multiple occasions throughout his career... including late this season." After the Nationals' acquisition of Detroit Tigers' right-hander Doug Fister earlier this winter, however, Nats' General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore, that Fister would, "...be the last significant starting pitcher the Nationals add," to a rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Fister and likely either Ross Detwiler, Tanner Roark or Taylor Jordan.
Reports this weekend by both the Post's beat writer and veteran Washington Post columnist, Thomas Boswell, support what has been written previously, with Mr. Boswell, in particular, talking to the Nationals' GM about any potential interest in the 6'2'' righty who finished his seven-year career in Nippon Professional Baseball with a (24-0) campaign in 2013 in which he threw eight complete games, one shutout, issued just 32 walks (1.36 BB/9) and rung up 183 Ks (7.77 K/9) in 28 games, 27 starts and 212 IP over which he had a 1.27 ERA.
In answering a reader's question on Twitter, the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore reiterated that though the team has scouted Tanaka, they don't appear likely to get involved in the bidding war that's just getting underway now that the pitcher has been posted/made available to any team willing to pay what it will take to get the Rakuten Golden Eagles' ace to sign:
@NFA_Brian From what we've heard, they've scouted him and like him, but it's unlikely ownership pays that much for an international player.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) December 27, 2013
The WaPost's Mr. Boswell followed up on that Tweet today with one of his own after he talked to the Nationals' GM about Tanaka:
"We probably aren't a player for Masahiro Tanaka," Nats Mike Rizzo just said. "Take care of our own guys 1st (if possible)." Desmond, Z'mann— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) December 28, 2013
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When Rizzo was asked about extensions for Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann at the end of the season, he told reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, that the Nationals had interest in long-terms deals with both. The GM told reporters at the Winter Meetings earlier this month, as the WaPost's James Wagner reported, that it made more sense to give long-term deals to players they've drafted and developed:
"'Those long-term contracts, you really have to know that personality and the track record and the history... I think that makes it easier to give guys longer-term contracts that you know than guys you’re going out in the free agent market and that you don’t know as well.'"
ESPN.com's Buster Olney likes the Nationals' rotation as it is. In the latest article in an ongoing series ranking baseball's best Rotations, Bullpens, Lineups, etc., he named the Nats' the third best rotation in the majors earlier this week, writing that they've added Fister, who Olney thinks will thrive in the NL, to a starting corps including Strasburg, Zimmermann and Gonzalez that had the seventh best ERA in baseball in 2013.
With Detwiler, in Olney's estimation, the front runner for the fifth spot, he sees the Nationals' rotation behind only the LA Dodgers and Detroit Tigers' at this point. The Nats didn't crack his list of the Top 10 Bullpens, however, and they earned only an Honorable Mention in his rankings of the Top 10 Lineups, with Mr. Olney writing that they have an "excellent" lineup if Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth stay healthy.
Another catcher to challenge Jhonatan Solano, Sandy Leon and Chris Snyder for the backup job behind Wilson Ramos? A middle infield option to push Danny Espinosa for the utility job? Another reliever if they aren't comfortable with Xavier Cedeno and Jerry Blevins as the top left-handed relief options? The Nationals may still make a few additions, but do you believe them when they say another starter is unlikely?
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