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Washington Nationals Rumors: Nationals' 2016 outfield options, potential targets

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Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters he didn't think the Nats would be big players when it comes to high-end free agent outfielders. Could they add a fourth outfielder though? Of course Gerardo Parra gets mentioned...

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Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at the GM Meetings in Boca Raton, Florida last week that the Nats were good to go in the outfield with Jayson Werth, Michael Taylor and Bryce Harper left to right in 2016.

"I wouldn’t think we’d be big players for one of the big free agent outfielders," Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Post's James Wagner, who noted that it was Rizzo's "assessment of the moment."

"We like the three guys that we have," Rizzo said. "We think Michael Taylor is going to be a terrific major league player."

"I don't know if we have that guy yet, because the other guys are prone to strikeouts and don't have that high on-base percentage. We had one, a very good one in Denard Span..." -Dusty Baker on finding a leadoff hitter

Taylor, who will turn 25 in March, put up a .229/.282/.357 line with 15 doubles, 14 home runs, 35 walks and 158 Ks in 138 games and 511 plate appearances, seeing more time than expected in center field because Denard Span dealt with injury issues which limited his availability.

"For a guy that was probably three or four or five months ahead of schedule when we brought him to the big leagues because of injury, he performed admirably," Rizzo told the Washington Post. "We see him as a long-term answer."

Will they try to find a fourth outfielder this winter? The WaPost reporter notes that they signed Nate McLouth to a two-year deal that didn't quite work out since the veteran outfielder dealt with injuries, but a fourth outfielder capable of playing every day in case injuries were once again an issue for Werth, Taylor or Harper would seem to make sense.

While Rizzo did say that he didn't think the Nats would be a big player for one of the high-end outfielders on the free agent market this winter, he did note that Matt den Dekker impressed in limited time.

Clint Robinson remains an option as well, though his defense might be an issue if he was called upon to play an outfield position on a regular basis.

Rizzo did allow that in spite of the presence of den Dekker and "some other outfield possibilities in the minor leagues," the Nationals, "...may be also active in the trade market or free agent market."

Gerardo Parra has been mentioned as a potential target before, and he, of course, has a connection to Rizzo, who was the scouting director in Arizona when the D-Backs signed Parra as an international free agent in 2004.

Parra was once again a target at last winter's non-waiver trade deadline, as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, among others, has reported.

Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo mentioned Washington in connection to two potential trade targets in his weekly "Sunday Baseball Notes" column, writing that though the Red Sox are less likely to make a big trade to acquire pitching help after the Craig Kimbrel deal, a number of teams had previously expressed interest in outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr.

"A year ago, Bradley wouldn’t have brought much in return," Cafaro wrote. "Now, the Mariners, Royals, Mets, and Cubs have expressed interest, and perhaps the Nationals."

[ed. note - "For those still holding out hope that the Nats might acquire Cincinnati Reds' closer Aroldis Chapman (raises hand), Cafardo wrote this morning that the Sox inquired about Chapman before acquiring Craig Kimbrel and talked about a potential trade that, "... would have been a similar package to the Kimbrel deal (maybe a tick more) and included Bradley." So top "lower-level" minor leaguers and a major-league ready outfielder for one year of team control of Chapman?"]

Elsewhere in the article, Cafardo mentioned that New York Yankees' outfielder Brett Gardner's name, "... was prevalent at the meetings for teams thinking center fielder/left fielder/leadoff man."

Without citing any sources or mentioning any rumors, Cafardo did add that Gardner, "... fits Washington, Seattle, the Mets, San Diego, San Francisco, and Kansas City," though, "[t]he Yankees would want a front-line starting pitcher in return."

Cafardo is the second writer this week to mention Gardner as a possible target for the Nationals.

MLB.com's Richard Justice, again, not mentioning any actual sources or rumors, speculated after the acquisition of Aaron Hicks, that the Yankees could make further moves.

"Would [GM Brian] Cashman include both Gardner and left-handed reliever Andrew Miller for an elite starting pitcher? For instance, Stephen Strasburg."

Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo did, of course, tell reporters at the GM Meetings, including Washington Post writer James Wagner that, "... he hadn’t fielded any inquiries on Strasburg yet," though with just one year of team control left, potential trade talks for Strasburg could come up often this winter, especially considering there has been no (public, at least) chatter about a potential extension for the '09 no.1 overall pick, who will become a free agent next winter.

More rumors/chatter/somewhat baseless speculation when there is some...