The general consensus, upon hearing reports last night of an imminent deal between the Minnesota Twins and right-hander Carl Pavano, is that the Washington Nationals dodged a wizard by not over-paying for a starter, who, at 35-as-of-tomorrow, made little sense for the building-for-2012-13 Nats. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter (@Ken_Rosenthal) last night that the Twins were, "closing in on Pavano," and a deal that was, "...expected to be for two years." SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) added that, "[Minnesota] was at [one] year until moving up today." The speculation in the last few weeks was that Washington, in their desperate search for a top-of-the-rotation arm, would be willing to go to three years to lure the one-time Expos' starter away from the Twins, where he'd resurrected his career after a trade from Cleveland in '09 and four tumultuos years in New York before that where the right-hander struggled to even get on the mound.
Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's article earlier this week entitled, "Adam LaRoche signing shows Washington Nationals now know nothing is free", took most of the wind out of the sails of the Pavano-to-Washington rumors when he quoted no less an authority on the matter than D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, who told the WaPost writer that though he'd heard that the Nats and Twins were the last two teams left in the race, the Nationals, "never [spoke] to Pavano and we haven't talked to his agent since the winter meetings." Both MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling, in an article entitled, "Nationals not actively pursuing Carl Pavano", and Mr. Boswell's colleague at the Washington Post, Adam Kilgore, in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "The state of the Nationals' starting rotation", had previously reported that the Nats' interest in Pavano was "lukewarm" at best.
MASNSports.com's Mr. Goessling in the article linked above, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter @jcrasnick) and SI.com's Mr. Heyman mentioned recently, however, that the Nationals might still be interested in adding more pitching, with the ESPN.com and SI.com writers putting the Nats on identical lists of seven teams with interest in former Colorado Rockies' left-hander Jeff Francis, while Mr. Goessling wrote that the Nats, "could sign another pitcher, [like Francis] or pursue a trade for Tampa Bay's Matt Garza, but they could also go into the 2011 season with the pitchers on their roster." Francis returned from a shoulder injury to make 19 starts last season after missing the entire '09 campaign following surgery. Garza was tied to the Cubs recently via rumor, but ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) reported on Twitter that a "well-placed source" told him it was, "more likely a Garza deal happens in July than now."
Early in the process of the Nats' starter search, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, in an appearance on the MLB Network Radio show Power Alley with Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy, was asked about the talent already in the Nationals' organization, prompting the general manager to rattle off a list of five pitchers, Jordan Zimmermann, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Yunesky Maya who are already on the team and would arguably fill out the Washington rotation barring any additional moves or the emergence of a prospect in the system who could possibly unseat one of the starters. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's article (mentioned above) entitled, "The state of the Nationals' starting rotation", had the same five starters as the top five of ten arms on his depth chart.
Here's what Rizzo had to say about the pitchers:
"Jordan Zimmermann is one of our prize prospects that has some major league experience. He's coming off Tommy John surgery. We think coming into the 2011 Spring Training he's going to be 100% ready to participate. We think that he's a front of the rotation guy, he's got plus stuff, he's got an arsenal of four pitches and he's got the competitive fire that the good ones have. We signed a Cuban pitcher named Yunesky Maya who had an abbreviated, quick Spring Training, if you will, throughout the middle of the season cause he was a late sign, hadn't pitched competitively since the World Baseball Classic, but he has gone to the Dominican Winter League and pitched extremely well there. We feel that he'll have an impact on our club when he has a full Spring Training to prepare and come in on the same footing as the rest of the players. So we have great expectations for him. John Lannan is a solid left-handed starter for us. He's logged 200.0 innings in his career in 2009, had a great second-half for us last year, he's going to be in the mix and we go with two veterans in the back end of it in Livan Hernandez, who had a magnificent season for us and a great comeback story for Livan. He came into Spring Training last year in the best shape of his career. We expect him to do the same this year and be an innings-eater for us and has been a great mentor for our young staff. And then of course Jason Marquis had the bone chips early on in the season and pitched well in the second half also when he was healthy."
Can Detwiler live up to his 1st Round pick potential? Can Chien-Ming Wang get his sink back? How far away is Sammy Solis? Luis Atilano? J.D. Martin? Craig Stammen? What role will he play? Garrett Mock? Does he get another shot? Spring Training's just eight weeks away...