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Nationals Rumors: Rumored Nats' Target Eric O'Flaherty In Talks With Braves

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Reports out of the Winter Meetings today say the Atlanta Braves and free agent lefty Eric O'Flaherty are in discussions to bring the reliever back to Turner Field in 2014, which, if it happened, would take one more name off the market as the Washington Nationals look for left-handed help.

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While there were persistent rumors of interest in free agent left-hander Eric O'Flaherty on the Washington Nationals' part throughout the past few weeks, with Nats' GM Mike Rizzo even telling reporters yesterday the Nationals were taking a close look at his medical reports, as the first day of the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings ended, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported on twitter that it appeared likely O'Flaherty would return to Atlanta:

A report out of Atlanta this afternoon by Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer David O'Brien supported what ESPN's Mr. Stark was hearing:

So what about the Nationals and J.P. Howell or Scott Downs? Howell, who signed a 1-year/$2.85M deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers last winter, was talking to LA again as Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti told reporters last weekend.

Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore wrote on Twitter on Sunday night that though Howell was the Nationals' top target at the start of the winter, there was a difference of opinion on the length of a deal:

Will the Nats revisit discussions with Howell if O'Flaherty goes off the market? Howell, 30, put up a 2.18 ERA and a 2.89 FIP with 23 walks (3.34 BB/9) and 54 Ks (7.84 K/9) in 62 IP for LA in 2013, holding left-handers to a .161/.225/.227 line in 32 1/3 IP and holding right-handers to a .218/.312/.296 line in 29 2/3 IP.

Scott Downs, 37, who finished the season in Atlanta after a trade from the LA Angels, is coming off a 3-year/$15M deal he signed with Los Angeles in 2010. Downs finished 12th MLB season with a 2.49 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 19 walks and 37 Ks in 43 1/3 IP in which he held opposing lefties to a .259/.333/.296 line while right-handers put up a .276/.379/.378 line against him.

Boone Logan, 29, avoided arbitration when he agreed on a 1-year/$3.15M contract with the Yankees last winter. In his eight major league season, he posted a 3.23 ERA with a 3.82 FIP, 13 walks (3.00 BB/9) and 50 Ks (11.54 K/9) in 39 IP in which he held lefties to a .215/.274/.377 line with righties putting up a .239/.319/.460 line against him.

report out of NY today said Logan talked to Yankees' GM Brian Cashman recently.

Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters yesterday that though the Nationals were active in the market, they were in no rush to sign a reliever during the Winter Meetings. There might not be many still available when the basebal world leaves Orlando, Florida...