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Washington Nationals: In Or Out On Brandon Webb?

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Yesterday it was the Washington Nationals on the outside looking in, inexplicably surpassed in their pursuit of former Cy-Young-Award-winner and D-Backs' ace Brandon Webb by the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers as MLB.com's Bill Ladson had reported in an article entitled, "Nats in mix for Pavano, maybe not for Webb", and this morning reports emerged, which were later refuted, of the Rangers and the 31-year-old right-hander nearing a deal. Tonight, however, at least according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, it's the Rangers and Nats showing "strong interest", while the Cubs, as Mr. Crasnick writes in an article entitled, "Source: Rangers eye Brandon Webb", have fallen, "...off the pace in their pursuit of the free-agent starter." It wouldn't be a Hot Stove story if there wasn't a mystery team involved and as Mr. Crasnick later noted on Twitter (@jcrasnick), "There's also an unidentified NL Central team that's trying to make a late run at Webb." Brandon Webb hasn't pitched in a major league game since Opening Day 2009.

The Washington Nationals, having pursued Cliff Lee and attempted to trade for Zack Greinke before the former signed with their NL East rivals and the latter went to Milwaukee and NL Central's arms race, are now left with a choice between Webb, who's tied to D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, the D-Backs' Director of Scouting from 2000 when he was drafted through 2006 when Rizzo left to join the Nats, and soon-to-be-35-year-old right-hander Carl Pavano, a 12-year-vet looking for a three-year deal who's reportedly eager to return to the Minnesota Twins after a successful 2010 and waiting for someone like the Nationals to overpay and give him three years when Washington's reportedly only willing to go two...or at least that's what Jim Bowden said...and he knows these things...

Webb's choice, as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick writes, is between a GM in D.C. who's familiar with him and the Texas Rangers, whose team surgeon, Dr. Keith Meister, performed the procedure to clean out the sinker baller's shoulder in 2009. "Meister's familiarity with Webb's medical history," Mr. Crasnick was told, "...has contributed to the team's 'comfort level' with the pitcher." The Washington Nationals have been desperate to add a starter with Stephen Strasburg shelved for the season.

• FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, in an article Monday entitled, "Brewers core players all under 30", cleared up some of the rumors that emerged Sunday, after the Royals and Brewers trade, about the Nats reportedly getting a deal nixed when Zack Greinke blocked a trade to D.C. Mr. Rosenthal writes that the two sides, "never reached agreement on an actual trade before the pitcher vetoed the idea of going to Washington." Mr. Rosenthal also added another name to the list of prospects the Nats were reportedly willing to part with, including 20-year-old catcher-abusing base stealer/outfielder Eury Perez in a package which would've included some combination of Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Derek Norris and Danny Espinosa, though not all of them.

• Wire Taps: Ruben Amaro, Jr. was on MLB Network Radio's Inside Pitch this morning, and the Phillies' GM was once again asked about new Nats' outfielder Jayson Werth. In describing the path the Phils' front office took to signing free agent left-hander Cliff Lee after deciding to let Werth walk, Mr. Amaro, Jr. said, "Obviously Jayson Werth was the biggest topic," when the Phillies started to discuss their plans for 2011, "and what we were willing to do to bring him back. Clearly, we wanted him back, he was an important part of our lineup, but we were keeping our minds open because, frankly, once he hired Scott [Boras] as his representative we knew that was going to put us in a tough spot because it was gonna be about the money, and frankly we weren't going to, I don't think we were going to go down that road even though we tried to make a valiant effort to [re-sign him.]*"

"Inside Pitch" host Jim Memolo said that he and his co-host had joked with David Montgomery (Phillies' part-owner, general partner, president, and CEO) during the Winter Meetings that the Phils' front office, "was in the perfect situation with the whole Jayson Werth thing, cause nobody in Philadelphia's going to blame you for not signing him for seven years." "Yeah, seven years for us on Jayson was just a little too long," Mr. Amaro, Jr. said, "We did make an offer to him we thought was very substantial and based on the market of quality outfielders over the last several years, we thought it was a significant offer. I do not blame Jayson Werth for taking a seven-year deal at $126 million dollars. That's a heck of a lot of money to walk away from..."

(ed.note - " * = Mr. Amaro, Jr's phone cut out on the broadcast, so I'm guessing how his sentence ended.")