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Washington Nationals "Actively" Pursuing Derrek Lee, Zack Greinke Asks Kansas City For Trade.

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• "Pitching, Defense, Speed and Athleticism":

"Pitching, defense, speed and athleticism." That's how D.C. GM Mike Rizzo explained his philosophy on how you build a championship-caliber team in an early November interview on MLB Network Radio. In his recent address to fans about the acquisition of free agent outfielder Jayson Werth and the team's plans for improvement in Phase II, the word "speed" had disappeared, but the Nats' GM once again reiterated that, "...championship teams are built on pitching, defense and athleticism." Gone are players that don't fit that description (see: Dunn, Adam; Willingham, Josh) and in are players like Roger Bernadina, who figures to take over in left, possibly splitting time with Michael Morse we're told unless some unforeseen move is made. Since the Werth signing it's been all bullpen arms, (and veteran bench-bat Matt Stairs) with hard throwers like Elvin Ramirez (a Rule 5 pick from the Mets' system), Henry Rodriguez (a flame-throwing reliever acquired from the A's in return for the Hammer yesterday), a recovering right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (whose future role is undefined) and today Chad Gaudin, a potential middle-relief option, all brought in to complement existing rotation and bullpen options and push for roles in the year '11 pen. 

The Nats are still tied (by rumor/anonymous sources) to pitchers like former Cy Young award-winner Zack Greinke (KC), though they're on his no-trade list, and Matt Garza (TB), though there's no guarantee he'll be dealt, as well as recovering one-time Cy Young award-winner, 31-year-old free agent Brandon Webb, who hasn't pitched since 2009, but has ties to Rizzo and has openly expressed an interest in the Nats, and 35-year-old former Twins' starter Carl Pavano. Webb's expected to make a decision "soon" as AOL/Fanhouse writer Ed Price wrote today in an article today entitled, "Source: Brandon Webb Nearing Decision", which included the Nats as one of four potential destinations. Zack Greinke abruptly switched reps today, according again to AOLFanhouse's Mr. Price on Twitter (@Ed_Price), and though the Nats are on his no-trade list, as recently as Dec. 6th in an article entitled, "The latest on Greinke", FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported that the 27-year-old right-hander, "...sources say, has told the Royals he's willing 'to go anywhere.'"

In another update of the Greinke chatter, SI.com's Jon Heyman, (who calls the Nats a "long-shot fourth possibility," for Pavano behind Minnesota, Milwaukee and Texas), confirmed today that the price Kansas City's asking for Greinke could be prohibitive, writing in the "Around the Majors" section of an article entitled, "Beltre and Soriano now focus of attention in surprising offseason", that earlier reports (from ESPN.com's Buster Olney among others) about the Royals asking for RHP Kyle Drabek and OF Travis Snider from the Blue Jays in return for the Royals' ace were not exactly true. (Toronto's reportedly on Greinke's no-trade list too, btw.) According to an unnamed GM who spoke to Mr. Heyman, "'They're asking for a lot more than that,'" and the SI.com writer says the Royals should since the former CYA-winner's under control for two years at reasonably affordable $13.5M per.

Latest Update: FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi writes tonight, in an article entitled, "Sources: Greinke asks Royals for trade", that the right-hander has changed agents as noted above, and, "Zack Greinke wants to be traded, and the Kansas City Royals intend to grant his wish."

The only rumors on Matt Garza have the NY Mets discussing and dismissing him as an option after concluding the raise he'd be getting is more than they're intending on spending to fill holes in the rotation and pen as NY Post writer Mike Puma reported today in an article entitled, "Mets armed for trade." ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine wrote today too, in an article entitled, "Family first, Wood's priority was in Chicago", that though the Cubs have talked about Garza since the Winter Meetings, "the pursuit...has become more convoluted with the fact the Rangers and Yankees are now looking at Garza's availability after missing out on Cliff Lee."

• As For The "Defense": 

MLB.com's Bill Ladson's report tonight, in an article entitled, "Nationals targeting Lee to fill first-base void", about the Washington Nationals, "...'actively' pursuing free-agent first baseman Derrek Lee," to fill the void left at first and in the middle of the Nats' lineup by Adam Dunn's departure for the American League's Chicago White Sox, is not exactly breaking news as much as confirmation (of reports by Mr. Ladson himself and other writers) of a much-rumored interest on the part of the Nationals and D.C. GM Mike Rizzo in the three-time Gold Glove-winning first baseman. Mr. Ladson's article comes a day after SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) reported on Twitter that, "the #nationals, whose gm mike rizzo loves defense, are very much in on d. lee," who Mr. Heyman noted (again on the Twitter), was, "...telling teams hed consider 1 yr bids after thumb injury opening day spoiled last yr."

IRWT.