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Washington Nationals Rumors: Nats and Dodgers atop list of suitors for Darren O'Day?

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According to a report from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick this afternoon, the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers are atop the list of suitors for free agent right-hander Darren O'Day, who is considered the top reliever on the market this winter.

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Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo has made no secret about his desire to upgrade the Nationals' bullpen this winter after the back end of the 'pen was an issue in 2015.

"I think it's a point of focus for us, we need to upgrade the bullpen," Rizzo told MLB Network's Hot Stove hosts Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian on Friday morning.

"We like [Jonathan Papelbon] and [Drew Storen] at the back end of the bullpen. They're both under contract and unless something happens where we get a real baseball deal to move one of them they're going to be in the back end of the bullpen, but we still need to upgrade the bullpen. We need to get deeper. We need to have a more veteran presence. We need to have a greater skill set to get out both right-handers and left-handers and we're going to be active in that market, be it the trade market or the free agent market, because we think it's a point of emphasis for us."

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote Saturday about the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals having an edge in the pursuit of now-former Baltimore Orioles' right-hander Darren O'Day this winter.

O'Day, Heyman wrote, "... who could be one of the first big free agents to sign, has drawn big interest from the Nationals, Braves and Dodgers, and while other teams are in the mix, this could shape up as a three-team competition featuring interesting connections."

O'Day has family in Atlanta, his wife, "... is a TV reporter for FOX based in Washington, which could give the Nats a bit of an edge," and Los Angeles, Heyman notes, has, "... the financial might," to compete for any free agents, "as well as the promise of an excellent team."

According to what ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick hears from a source, the Nationals and Dodgers are currently sitting atop the list of potential destinations for the side-winding right-hander who put up a 1.52 ERA, a 2.49 FIP, 14 walks (1.93 BB/9) and 82 Ks (11.30 K/9) in 65 ⅓ innings pitched in his fourth season in Baltimore in 2015.

Crasnick's colleague at ESPN, Jim Bowden, wrote this morning about the possibility of the Nats acquiring Aroldis Chapman from Cincinnati in an article about deals he would like to see happen, suggesting a trade that would send Drew Storen, Michael Taylor and infield prospect Wilmer Difo to the Reds in return for the flame-throwing left-hander.

The acquisition, Bowden writes, would give the Nationals, "... the most dominant left-handed reliever in the game to pair with right-hander Jonathan Papelbon at the back end of their bullpen," and though Chapman has only one year of team control remaining and a projected salary of close to $12.9M in his final year of arbitration eligibility in 2016, Bowden adds that the Nationals, "... have the financial wherewithal to extend Chapman with a longer-term contract extension if they so desire."

The Nationals have, of course, expressed interest in Chapman before, though Rizzo and Co. reportedly found the return the Reds were seeking prohibitive when they explored the possibility again last July.

Has the Reds' asking price come down since then? Any hesitation giving O'Day, 33, something like the 4-year/$28-$36M deal FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's sources told him the reliever is seeking?