FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi wrote on Twitter on Monday that he spoke to super agent Scott Boras, who told him that several unsigned clients of his were close to inking deals:
Jeff Baker, a free agent corner infielder and outfielder, was a player of interest for the Washington Nationals, but he signed with the Miami Marlins this afternoon, agreeing on a 2-year/$3.7M deal with the Nats' NL East rivals.
The other name on that list that has previously been mentioned in connection with the Nationals was Oliver Perez's, and according to the Washington Post's James Wagner, the Nats remain interested in Perez, a 32-year-old left-hander who spent time in the organization in 2011. As the WaPost's Mr. Wagner wrote this afternoon, the Nationals wouldn't be opposed to a reunion with the lefty:
"But even though the Nationals couldn’t lure Baker, they remain highly interested in another Scott Boras client, left-handed reliever Oliver Perez, according to the person familiar with the situation."
Mr. Wagner's colleague at the Washington Post, columnist Thomas Boswell, wrote earlier this winter that even after the Nationals acquired Jerry Blevins they were still seeking a second left-hander for the bullpen. "Washington wanted to trade for Jerry Blevins on his merits (2.81 ERA in his past 156 relief games) but wanted a second lefty, too," Boswell wrote in late December. "The Nats still tried to get [Matt] Thornton after Blevins was in hand."
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The Nationals have discussed several in-house options as candidates for the bullpen, with Ross Detwiler mentioned if he didn't win a rotation spot and prospect Sammy Solis brought up as someone who might contribute at the major league level before long. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo has previously stated that he thinks Xavier Cedeno earned the right to compete for the late-inning role in the bullpen. New manager Matt Williams said earlier this winter that he prefers to have two left-handers in his 'pen, but in a recent interview, he said it wasn't a necessity.
"I think you have to say, like last year, Mike said, 'Yeah, well we'd love to have a lefty, but our options may be not as good as all the righties at that point,'" Williams explained. "Every manager would love to have two lefties. We'll have to see how it works in Spring Training. What we can accomplish."
Oliver Perez has previously been mentioned as a target for the Nationals this winter. The veteran lefty pitched at Double-A Harrisburg in the Nats' system in 2011, putting up a 3.09 ERA, 27 walks (3.21 BB/9) and 58 Ks (6.90 K/9) in 75 2/3 IP. He pitched for the Seattle Mariners in 2012-13, posting a 3.16 ERA with 36 walks (3.92 BB/9) and 98 Ks (10.67 K/9) in 82 2/3 IP. In his career, Perez has held left-handed hitters to a .230/.321/.365 line. Last season in Seattle, the lefty held opposing lefties to a .238/.358/.288 line.
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