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Nationals Rumors: Winter Meetings preview, Nats' 2B search revisited

Will the Washington Nationals find a second baseman this week at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, California? Will they make a trade involving one of their starters, or potentially lock one of their soon-to-be free agents up long-term? Rumor time...

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In his weekly "Sunday Baseball Notes" column this morning, Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo dropped the Washington Nationals' name into a paragraph about the Los Angeles Angels' search for pitching help, mentioning both Jon Lester and James Shields as potential targets for LA's American League team.

While either free agent pitcher would give the Angels the top of the rotation arm they're reportedly after, Cafardo writes that," [t]here’s also been a lot of talk of dealing second baseman Howie Kendrick, which would bring back at least a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher from the Nationals, Yankees, or Blue Jays."

This isn't the first time Kendrick's name has come up in connection to the Nats.'s Ken Rosenthal wrote about the Angels potentially dealing Kendrick or third baseman David Freese in a late October article in which he mentioned the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins and Nationals as teams looking for an upgrade at second base this winter. Rosenthal said at the time that LA was looking for starting depth and a left-handed reliever if they were to make a deal.

In a November 20th article on the market for free agent starter Max Scherzer, the bow-tied reporter speculated that the Nationals could potentially deal right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who's headed for free agency after the 2015 campaign, and sign Scherzer, who has history with Nats' GM Mike Rizzo, who was the Arizona Diamondbacks' scouting director when they drafted Scherzer, and has what the reporter characterized as a "strong relationship" with Scherzer's agent, Scott Boras.

"[W]hat if the Nats could trade Zimmermann for Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick and a bullpen arm?" Rosenthal asked. "Both teams would have to think about it, right?"

According to a tweeted report by Rosenthal today, however, the Angels are having second thoughts about dealing Kendrick, who is set to make $9.5M in 2015 in the final year of a 4-year/$33.5M extension before he too hits free agency:

In a Winter Meetings preview today, Rosenthal included both Jordan Zimmermann and Nationals' right-hander Doug Fister (also a free agent after the 2015 campaign) on a list of "pitchers entering their free-agent years" who, "are in play," as the Winter Meetings get underway in San Diego, CA this week.

He does, however, also note that the Nationals, "... are expected to make another run at extending Zimmermann," before moving forward this winter.

Zimmermann and the Nats have, of course, talked extension before, but they haven't, according to a recent report by Washington Post writer James Wagner, picked up those talks since the two sides settled on a 2-year/$24M deal last winter when they couldn't agree on a long-term deal.

So where will the Nationals find the second baseman they're after this winter?

Where is the young, major league or at least major-league-ready, controllable infielder that Rizzo tends to target who can step in and play every day on a championship-caliber team?

Are any of the options on the international market the answer for 2015?

The Nationals reportedly reached out to Asdrubal Cabrera's agent last month as they surveyed the free agent and trade markets for infielders:

After two months of speculation, rumors, chatter and tweeted reports, is this the week the Washington Nationals find their 2015 second baseman? Will they make a decision on trading or keeping Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Denard Span and the other Nats due to become free agents after this season? Add bullpen arms? Bench bats?

It's Winter Meetings time...