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Washington Nationals: Weekend Rumor Roundup.

• Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan, in an article entitled, "Teams not fighting over free agents", gives his best guess as to what sort of deals the top ten free agents remaining on the market this winter are expected to receive. In Mr. Passan's opinion, 21-year-old Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman's in line for a 5-year/$23 million dollar deal. Joel Piniero, 31, who's trying to turn an excellent contract year into a big deal, (but unfortunately does not come in a package with St. Louis' Pitching Coach Dave Duncan), is looking for 3-years/$27 million according to Mr. Passan's projections. If the Nationals want to give Ben Sheets a shot, Mr. Passan thinks he can be had for 1-year and $7 million, but the 31-year-old right-hander is coming off surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow, and hasn't pitched in a Major League game since September 2008...

•'s Bill Ladson says that, "The Nationals are still looking to acquire another veteran starter," in an article entitled, "Nationals have higher hopes for 2010", to join the four pitchers Mr. Ladson predicts will make up the twenty-ten Nationals' rotation: John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Craig Stammen and Ross Detwiler. "Washington continues to have interest in right-hander John Smoltz," Mr. Ladson writes, "but he'd have to lower his price to get a deal done." Smoltz, who'll turn 43 in May, signed a 1-year/$5.5 million dollar incentive-laden deal with Boston last winter which could have earned him as much as $10 million, but he was released by the Red Sox after 8 starts and 40.0 IP in which he allowed 59 H, 37 ER, 9 walks and 8 HR's. St. Louis then signed the veteran right-hander, who was (1-3) with a 4.26 ERA in 7 starts and 38.0 IP for the Cardinals over which he walked 9 (2.1 BB/9) and struck out 40 (9.5 K/9). 

• Mr. Ladson also notes, in the same article, "Nationals have higher hopes for 2010", that Washington is still interested in signing Orlando Hudson to bolster the middle of their infield since the Nationals' brass is reportedly still split on Ian Desmond's ability to take over at short on a full-time basis. According to a Detroit Free Press ( article entitled, "Are the Tigers targeting 2B Orlando Hudson", which is credited to the Free Press Staff, if the Nationals want the 32-year-old infielder, they'll have to compete with the Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and the Detroit Tigers, who, "...are interested in having him replace Placido Polanco at second." If Washington were to sign Hudson, it would most likely mean Desmond would start the season at Triple-A Syracuse, and's Mr. Ladson writes that the plan to move Cristian Guzman to second would be dropped to make room on the right side for the O-Dog...

?'s For the DC Faithful:

- Is Ian Desmond ready for the full-time spot? 

- The Nationals traded Ronnie Belliard to LA where he beat out Orlando Hudson for the 2B spot as the Dodgers charged to the postseason...So why sign Hudson when Belliard's still a free agent? Is Belliard's time in DC just done? Belli's bound to be a cheaper alternative...If Desmond's ready does it make more sense to try to bring Belliard back?

- 3-years/$23 million for Aroldis Chapman? Want to be talked out of Aroldis Chapman? Check out "Chuck's" article at Dugout entitled, "The Saga of Aroldis Chapman, Where and When Will It End". There's also a link in the comments section of this article to a report at by Alex Eisenberg entitled, "Aroldis Chapman: Everything You Need To Know", that thoroughly examines the 21-year-old left-hander's delivery, pitch selection and potential arm slot issues... 

- Ben Sheets is a former 1st Round pick who could be had for less than the Nationals gave Jason Marquis, if you agree with Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan's opinion...Can the Nationals afford to invest their money in a pitcher recovering from injury or do they need more of a sure thing?

- Is there any way DC GM Mike Rizzo is going to give Joel Piniero $9 million a year over two or the three years the free agent pitcher wants? Is there any chance Smoltz gets a deal that could earn him $10M again? Is he worth $5.5 million-a-year at this point in his career? Does that sort of deal make sense for DC?

- What's Rizzo's next move?