Writing on Twitter last night, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported that the Washington Nationals were still in the market for a second baseman and preferably a left-handed hitter. Rosenthal suggested then that the free agent infielder Kelly Johnson might make sense as a target.
Rosenthal followed that report up with a Tweet which said infielder Danny Espinosa was likely to start the season at shortstop for the Nats and top infield prospect Trea Turner could be ready mid-season.
Espinosa then could platoon with a new second baseman and then fill in at short when Turner comes up.
In a follow-up article this afternoon, Rosenthal wrote that the Nationals previously expressed interest in Colorado Rockies' outfielder Carlos Gonzalez as well.
Tonight, citing major league sources, Rosenthal is writing that the Nats and Cincinnati Reds are reportedly talking about a deal for second baseman Brandon Phillips.
"For the deal to happen," he notes, "the Nationals would need to persuade Phillips to waive his full no-trade protection as a player with 10 years of major-league service, five consecutive with the same club."
Phillips, 34, and coming off a .294/.328/.395, 19 double, 12 home run, 2.6 fWAR campaign in 2015 in which he played in 148 games and made 623 plate appearances, is owed $13M this season and $14M in 2017 in the last two years of the 6-year/$72.5M deal he signed with the Reds in 2012.
Could the Nationals deal for the 14-year veteran and reunite him with manager Dusty Baker, who worked with Phillips from 2008-2013 in Cincinnati?
A Dusty Baker-Brandon Phillips reunion in D.C.? Story on trade talks between #Nationals and #Reds:... https://t.co/IJ3m5XSO3a— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2015
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked this weekend if the Nationals were still pursuing a left-handed bat for either center field or second base and he talked about doing what he could to improve the roster.
"There [are] a lot of things and possibilities that we can do via the free agent market and the trade market," he said.
"So we're going to see what fits for us nicely and what deals we can make. We're just out scouring and looking for players that help improve the roster and make us a championship-caliber club."
Does a right-handed hitter like Phillips make sense for the Nationals? His splits (.291/.325/.402 vs RHP; .303/.338/.372 vs LHPs in 2015; .269/.314/.407 vs RHP, .286/.336/.461 vs LHPs career) don't exactly scream future platoon partner.
is a future infield with Turner and Phillips up the middle and Espinosa as a utility man make sense?
Barring a trade like this one this winter or another signing, will the Nationals consider going into the season with Espinosa, Turner and prospect Wilmer Difo competing for the two starting middle infield spots?