Mike Rizzo described the addition of Max Scherzer to the Washington Nationals' already-impressive collection of arms as a case of "strengthening a strength" when the right-hander was introduced to the nation's capital last week. "He's the type of guy we're looking for," Rizzo said, "and he's the guy that we went after very aggressively and we strengthened a strength and, who wouldn't want Max Scherzer on their club?"
So with Scherzer now part of an even stronger starting rotation, what do the Nationals do next?
Multiple reports after the 7-year/$210M deal with the free agent right-hander was announced said the Nats were willing to stand pat with a "super rotation" that is strong enough 15-game winner Tanner Roark could be headed to the bullpen in 2015.
Rizzo was asked during an appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s "Grant and Danny Show" this past Thursday for his thoughts on keeping all of the Nationals' starters in Washington or continuing to entertain deals for starters like Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, both of whom are headed for free agency after this season if extensions can't be worked out before then.
"Our approach hasn't changed since the beginning of the offseason," Rizzo explained. "We like to make deals and good baseball deals that make sense for us in the short-term and with a long-term view. And that hasn't changed. We like the team we have. We like the players that have. We think we have a chance to compete this year and beyond, so for us to move one of those players, it has to be a deal that really makes sense for us and a deal that would have to be very impactful to the organization."
Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo was asked by a reader in a mailbag article this weekend if he thought that the Scherzer signing made it more likely that Washington would deal from their starting depth?
Rizzo, on Hot Stove, on Desmond: "We like him, we need him ... someone would have to make us a very aggressive deal to get him." #Nats— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) January 22, 2015
baseball is weird. nats were talking to teams about zimmermann. then they get scherzer, and now nats say zim is staying.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 20, 2015
"From what I’ve been able to gather from my Nationals sources," Cafardo wrote in response, "they would like to hold on to [Stephen] Strasburg and all of their pitchers. Now, if they don’t live up to expectations I’m sure they would entertain moving him at the trading deadline. The point of signing Scherzer was to create an uber starting rotation."
Scherzer's agent, Scott Boras, said much the same when asked after the righty's introductory press conference in the nation's capital.
"'I spoke to Mike [Rizzo] and the people when we signed Max," Boras told reporters including Washington Times' writer Tom Schad, "'and they said that they have every intention of keeping this pitching staff intact.'"
As New York Post writer Joel Sherman explained it, the Nationals' signing gives them plenty of options considering what's in store over the next few seasons.
"[Scherzer] is now the big-picture rotation anchor," he wrote, "Zimmermann and Fister are free agents after the 2015 season, Strasburg after 2016 and Gonzalez has an option for 2017."
Roark could move to the bullpen now and move back in the future, if/when they lose or decide to trade any of the starters. Scherzer, Sherman suggests, could lead a future rotation with the likes of Lucas Giolito and others like A.J. Cole, and the structure of Scherzer's 7-year/$210M deal even makes it possible that the Nationals could sign one of the pending free agents like Zimmermann, Fister or Ian Desmond.
Can a team like the Red Sox come up with the sort of "impactful" offer that would make Rizzo consider dealing one of the Nationals' soon-to-be-free agents?