Nationals Rumors: Nats Were Interested In Backup Catcher And Another Left-Handed Reliever...

Joe Robbins

It probably shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed the Nationals' offseason moves that Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was looking for a veteran catcher to back up Wilson Ramos. They were reportedly after a second left-handed reliever too...

So, apparently Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo agreed with everyone following the Washington Nationals' offseason moves who thought the team needed to add a legitimate backup catcher in case no.1 backstop Wilson Ramos struggled with injuries again in 2014. At least according to what Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote on Saturday.

Towards the end of the WaPost writer's article on the GM's attempts to bolster the Nationals' roster, he reported that the Nats, "...hoped to deal for then-Reds backup catcher Ryan Hanigan but would not give up a young pitcher such as Taylor Jordan or Sammy Solis."

Cincinnati signed veteran catcher Brayan Pena to a 2-year/$2.275M deal, then traded the 33-year-old Hanigan as part of a three-team deal with Arizona and Tampa Bay that brought 22-year-old left-hander David Holmberg to the Reds from the D-Backs.

Holmberg, who turned 22 in July, is an '09 White Sox' 2nd Round pick who was traded to the Diamondbacks along with RHP Daniel Hudson in a 2010 trade for Edwin Jackson. Holmberg, when he was dealt again this month, was coming off a 2013 campaign in which he made his MLB debut after going (5-8) with a 2.75 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 50 walks (2.86 BB/9) and 116 Ks (6.64 K/9) in 26 starts and 157 1/3 IP at Double-AA in the D-Backs' system. Sound like a younger but rough equivalent for Jordan or Solis?

Hanigan, who has a career .992 fld%, posted 48% and 45% CS% in the last two seasons, respectively, and ranks high on most lists of the best pitch framers in the game, then signed a 3-year/$10.75M extension with the Rays.

The Nationals signed veteran backstop Chris Snyder to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training (which will reportedly pay him $1M+ if he makes the major league roster). "'For every deal that gets done, there are 10 that didn’t,'" Rizzo told the Washington Post's Mr. Boswell. "'But you prepare just as hard for all of them.'"

According to the WaPost's Mr. Boswell, the Nationals also pursued another left-handed reliever after acquiring left-hander Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics in return for the Nats' 24-year-old 2013 Minor League Player of the Year, outfielder Billy Burns.

Reports, including two by MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo before and after Matt Thornton signed a 2-year/$7M deal with the Yankees, noted the Nationals' interest in the 37-year-old lefty.

"The Nats still tried to get Thornton after Blevins was in hand," Boswell wrote Saturday, after the Nats moved on from potential targets like Javier Lopez, J.P. Howell and Scott Downs, all of whom got multi-year deals on the market this winter.

The Nationals' GM told reporters he was comfortable with catchers Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon backing up Wilson Ramos but apparently did pursue other options before signing Snyder.

The Nationals have Blevins and lefty Xavier Cedeno available for the bullpen and Rizzo has talked about the possibility of Sammy Solis pitching in the majors this season if they need help in the 'pen, but still reportedly pursued another lefty. Does the fact that Rizzo talked about his winter plans mean the Nationals are now done as Boswell implies?

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