FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's (@Ken_Rosenthal) tweeted about the Washington Nationals' search for a center fielder on Sunday afternoon, writing that the, "#Nationals' CF targets include Bourjos, Upton, maybe Pagan if non-tendered. Cespedes also possibility." Peter Bourjos, reports are suggesting, is potentially available because the Los Angeles Angels have a somewhat crowded outfield. The 24-year-old '05 10th Round pick, who hit 26 doubles, 11 triples and 12 HR's in 2011, stealing 22 bases while putting up a .271/.327/.438 slash in 147 games and 552 plate appearances, unfortunately plays center field on a team with Mike Trout in their organization.
Bourjos' name first came up in connection with the Nationals in July, as Washington talked about center fielders before the Non-Waiver trade deadline. In addition to the fact that he's a strong defender, Bourjos is attractive because he won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season...two reasons he'll also require quite a return should the Angels decide to deal him...
• Recent Rumors: Some New York Mets/Bourjos rumors that have been around for a while now were given life again this afternoon when former D.C. GM and current ESPN writer Jim Bowden speculated in an article entitled, "Bowden's Bullets: Bourjos for Wright?", that NY might be able to get a Bourjos/Hank Conger package from LA if the Mets were willing to trade 3B David Wright to the Angels.
The former Nats' GM also mentions the Nationals' interest in Bourjos in the article, writing that in addition to exploring that possibility, the Nats have, "... talked to the Rays about B.J. Upton, but the likeliest target is Yoenis Cespedes. Still, they’re not convinced that they want to meet Cespedes’ asking price, which is in the $50 million neighborhood." According to sources ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes's (@GordonEdes) quoted today on the Twitter, that asking price is more like $60 million, "One big-league executive says Cespedes agent telling clubs it will take double Chapman money to sign him That means $60m."
As for Upton, ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) wrote on Twitter today that Tampa Bay was, ".. telling teams they will talk about BJ upton but have to be overwhelmed to move him." What the Rays want in return for Upton might keep the Nationals from pursuing a deal according to Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell, who wrote in a chat with readers this afternoon that after talking to D.C. GM Mike Rizzo recently, "I doubt the Nats will be trading for Upton." The 27-year-old Rays' center fielder, the WaPost writer points out, is a free agent after the 2012 season, "... so the Nats wouldn't give up a significant piece of the current big-league-club puzzle,":
"They'd probably be willing to pay him $5-to-$6M. Money not a problem. But the players the Rays would want in return would probably be prohibitive. So, I got the feeling that, right now, BJ isn't one of the top two players on Rizzo's CF trade list."
The Washington Post writer suggests that if it's not Upton, the Nationals, "... are aiming to make a CF trade for a less high-profile player." The latest reports, however, from a meeting with the press this afternoon in Dallas, have the current Nats' GM Mike Rizzo once again reiterating the fact that the Nats haven't ruled out the possibility of Jayson Werth filling the hole in center field next season, and as MLB.com's BIll Ladson, NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, and Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak noted on Twitter, they haven't ruled out the possibility of Bryce Harper starting the year in right field.
As the Nats' general manager told reporters earlier this winter, however, in a "perfect world", Werth would be in right and the Nats would acquire a center fielder/leadoff man. If a trade can't be worked out and Yoenis Cespedes proves too expensive, will the "Bryce Harper is ready" lobby get what they want? Or maybe Rizzo's just letting agents and opposing teams know the Nats don't need a center fielder this winter....Speculate away...