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Are The Washington Nationals Players In The Zack Greinke Market?

Washington Nationals fans want to know if the Nats are going to make a play for 29-year-old right-hander Zack Greinke this winter, and the Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo hasn't exactly said no when asked...

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Tim Umphrey

When readers weren't asking about Adam LaRoche and the Washington Nationals' attempts to bring the 33-year-old first baseman back to the nation's capital after his strong .271/.343/.510, 35 double, 33 HR, +3.8 fWAR 2012 season, or wondering whether or not the Nats will try to sign a center fielder this winter, the player whose name came up again and again on Monday in Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's chat was Zack Greinke.

In discussing how the lack of resolution in their ongoing struggle for increased TV revenue with Baltimore Orioles' owner Peter Angelos might affect their offseason spending, the WaPost's Mr. Boswell wrote that the Nats, "... know that they are going to have increased attendance in '13 and plenty of revenue to sign anybody in the current free agent class that they might want," so, "It's not going to inhibit a LaRoche, [Michael] Bourn or even Greinke bid."

The Nationals are known to have previously courted the 29-year-old former Kansas City Royals' starter who pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers and LA Angels last year in his ninth MLB season. The Nats made a play for Greinke when the Royals were taking offers for the right-handed, one-time Cy Young Award winner back in December 2010, but the pitcher spurned the Nationals' advances, explaining at the time that he thought the Brewers had a chance of winning sooner than Nats.

With Washington back in the market for a starter this winter, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, as quoted by the Washington Times' Amanda Comak earlier this month, that they will be, "... much more open-minded with it this year," and attempt to add the best available arm, which means, in his words, "It doesn't necessarily have to be a veteran, it doesn't have to necessarily need to be a fifth-starter type of guy." The general manager (who was named Executive of the year by the Boston chapter of the BBWAA today) was inevitably asked about Greinke again and asked the Times' Ms Comak a question in return, "What's not to like?"

In a recent MLB Network Radio interview the Nationals' GM was asked again about Greinke by former D.C. GM Jim Bowden, and admitted that he's imagined adding the right-hander to the mix along with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler, but noted that, "Thinking about it; dreaming about it; implementing it are different things." While Rizzo said it would be difficult to, "... have three hundred million dollar players in a payroll that has to be at a certain level," he did say the Nationals have shown, "... a propensity to go out and go after the best guy available."

"If their profile fits and the skill level fits and the make-up fits and the clubhouse presence fits, we're open to any and all ideas," Rizzo said. The GM did, however, add a note of caution about having, "... to be smart about it."

"We have to do the right thing for the long haul," Rizzo said, "but we're certainly going to keep our options open."

According to recent reports the Los Angeles Dodgers are considered the favorite to land Greinke, with USA Today's Bob Nightengale reporting a little over a week ago that they had already spoken to the pitcher's representatives and the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman writing this past Sunday that an "industry source" told him that, "... the Dodgers are the favorites to wind up with top free agent starter Zack Greinke, with the Angels and Rangers on the outside looking in."

The Washington Post's Mr. Boswell acknowledged that the two LA teams were the likely favorites to land or keep Greinke in Monday's chat, writing that in the Dodgers' case, "... big money is now fully in play (with [Stan] Kasten sure to spend... huge with the Dodgers)." As for the Angels, the WaPost writer wondered how they can let Greinke go, asking, "After you spend a zillion for Pujols and Wilson, then trade for Greinke, how can you let him get away? You can't, if it's humanly possible to help it."

When's Keith Law ranked the Top 50 Free Agents earlier this winter he listed Greinke no.1 on the list and speculated (after first dismissing inevitable and oft-repeated comments about Greinke's "battles with anxiety and depression," as a non-factor) that the free agent pitcher would get a 5-year deal and wrote that he'd be "very comfortable" giving it to the '02 1st Round pick who finished his 9th MLB season (15-5) with a 3.48 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 54 walks (2.29 BB/9) and 200 Ks (8.48 K/9) in 34 starts and 212.1 IP between the Brewers and Angels over which he was worth +5.1 fWAR. The Nationals were believed to be willing to offer Greinke a 5-year/$90M dollar extension when they courted him in 2010. Will that type of deal get it done this time around?

• Previous Report: Zack Greinke Once Said He Might Consider Signing With The Washington Nationals...