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Washington Nationals Rumors: The old Zack Greinke chatter again; Don Mattingly?

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The Washington Nationals were reportedly willing to offer Zack Greinke a 5-year/$100M-ish extension back before he was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010. Greinke considered joining the Nats then... would he consider it again?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote on Saturday afternoon about the December 2010 trade between Milwaukee and Kansas City that sent Zack Greinke to the Brewers along with Yuniesky Betancourt in return for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi. Cain and Escobar are, of course, playing important roles for the Royals as they compete in the World Series this Fall, but Heyman writes about a Greinke trade that could have been as well.

The "original trade agreement", Heyman noted, was between the Royals and the Washington Nationals, but, "[t]hat one fell through," he wrote, "because Nats GM Mike Rizzo wanted to lock up Greinke long-term for what is believed to have been $100 million," and "Greinke decided he didn't want to do that because he doubted the Nats were ready to win."

"From Washington," he adds, "the Royals were to get Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Derek Norris, quite a haul indeed."

Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin too, in the aftermath of the non-deal, wrote about the Nationals' willingness to sign Greinke to a 5-year/$100M that winter, had he agreed on a trade, but his colleague, veteran WaPost columnist Thomas Boswell had a different take on the rumored return.

Boswell wrote in a chat at the time that, "... the Nats and Royals never got anywhere close to picking the actual Nats players in the trade," and disspelled any rumors that any deal would have included the likes of Jordan Zimmermann, Danny Espinosa and Drew Storen:

"... it is incorrect to think that the Royals were going to get ANY three they wanted or the BEST three __like Z'mann, Storen and Espinosa. No way. They'd probably have gotten ONE of them, plus a Bernadina and perhaps a catcher (not [Wilson] Ramos)."

Greinke did, after the fact, explain his thinking in declining to allow a deal to the Nationals, telling the WaPost's Sheinin, "'It wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did [with the Nationals] if it wasn’t appealing.'":

"'The Nationals are trying to build a winner,' Greinke said, 'and if I’m going to go there, I didn’t really want them to trade away the players they were going to build around. That hurts their team.'"

Asked then if he'd consider signing with the Nationals when he did eventually reach free agency at the end of the 4-year/$38M dollar extension he signed with the Royals in 2009, Greinke did say he might consider the possibility.

"'In two years I might be a free agent, and then they get to keep the players [who would have been] in the trade. And some of those guys could end up being key players for them.'"

Before he reached free agency, the Brewers traded the right-hander to the Los Angeles Angels, and when he finally became a free agent, Greinke signed a 6-year/$147M deal with the LA Dodgers that included an opt-out which the right-hander is expected to exercise this winter.

So... if the Nationals were, as rumored, willing to sign a then-26-going-on-27-year-old Greinke to a five-year/$100M deal, would they be willing to sign a now-32-year-old Greinke to the sort of 5-year/$150M deal that's rumored to be the starting point for negotiations this time around?

In another report on Saturday, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote about the Nationals' willingness to spend on a managerial candidate, reporting that former-Dodgers' skipper Don Mattingly, who's now the Marlins' manager, did, in fact, through an intermediary, reach out to the Nats about their job opening before they decided to hire Bud Black as Matt Williams' successor on the bench in the nation's capital.

Mattingly, through an intermediary, expressed interest, Heyman wrote:

"... but word came back through the intermediary, 'We can't afford Don Mattingly.' Whether the Nats were just being polite isn't known, but it seems like they were negotiating hard and hoping to keep the manager below $2 million per year, perhaps well below. That seems odd for a team that spent $210 million on a pitcher, though far from unprecedented."

The obvious conclusion?

The Nats are totally saving that money for Greinke... or an extension for Stephen Strasburg... or Bryce Harper's mega deal... or... probably Greinke.