After adding a new manger, new coaches and a new medical staff, what's next? Bullpen help? A left-handed hitting infielder/outfielder? A potential rotation addition?
What will the Washington Nationals do this winter as they try to fill the roster holes left by departing free agents and bolster the relief corps that was an issue for them last season?
Here are the latest Nats-related rumors:
Reports on Tuesday, including one by Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Connolly, said the Orioles made what they think is a "competitive offer" to free agent righty Darren O'Day, who pitched for the O's from 2012-2015, putting 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 last season in a 1.8 fWAR campaign.
Connolly writes that a source told him O'Day is currently weighing offers with a decision possible before the Winter Meetings commence next Monday.
"The Orioles might not be considered the front-runners," Connolly noted, "but appear to be in the final conversation, along with the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers and others."
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who reported last week that Washington and Los Angeles were atop the list of potential suitors for O'Day, wrote on Tuesday that the Nationals remained in the mix:
#Orioles are hoping to at least get a final shot at O'Day regardless of what he decides. #Nationals definitely in the mix.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 1, 2015
Crasnick also tweeted this afternoon that the Nationals are still on in switch-hitting, World Series-winning utility man Ben Zobrist:
Ben Zobrist is visiting teams on East Coast now and West Coast later in week. Good bet he'll sign during winter meetings.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 2, 2015
The #Mets, #Nationals, #Dodgers, #SFGiants are all in mix for Zobrist. Andrew Friedman is a big Zobrist fan from Tampa days.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 2, 2015
Zobrist, 34, is coming off a .272/.354/.395, 2.1 fWAR campaign in 2015 which saw the Oakland A and Kansas City Royal hit 36 doubles and 13 home runs in 126 games and 535 plate appearances.
Reports on Tuesday, including one by YahooSports.com's Jeff Passan, said the sense among interested teams is that the price for the 10-year veteran is currently at 4-years/$60M:
Sources: Price on Ben Zobrist keeps going up. Sense among interested teams is that it stands at four years, $60 million and may go higher.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 2, 2015
As for starting pitching? Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including Washington Post beat writer Chelsea Janes, that after losing Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister to free agency this winter, he's comfortable, "... sliding Tanner [Roark] and Joe [Ross] in the rotation," behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, though he did, of course, add that, "With that said, you can never have enough good starting pitching."
After free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto reportedly turned down a 6-year/$120M offer from the Arizona D-Backs this week, ESPN.com's David Schoenfield speculated about which teams might sign the 29-year-old starter who put up an (11-13) record for the Cincinnati Reds and Royals this past season, posting a 3.44 ERA, a 3.53 FIP, 46 walks (1.95 BB/9) and 176 Ks (7.47 K/9) in 32 starts and 212 innings, over which he was worth 4.1 fWAR.
Schoenfield, citing a report by his colleague at ESPN, Buster Olney, listed teams that are, "... prepared to spend significant money on a starter," mentioning the San Francisco Giants, Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers... and the Nationals as potential suitors for Cueto:
"Olney didn't list the Nationals as a team looking to spend on pitching," Schoenfield noted, "... but they surprised everyone with Max Scherzer last year, and with [Jordan] Zimmermann now officially gone and Stephen Strasburg a free agent after 2016, they could be the dark horse who swoops in and gives Cueto $140 million."
Could Cueto's shared history with the Nationals' new manager play a role? Dusty Baker managed the Reds from 2008-13, the first six years of the righty's major league career. Any chance of a potential reunion in the nation's capital?