In discussing plans for the 2016 rotation, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters last month, 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," though he, of course, added that, "...with that said, you can never have enough good starting pitching."
New Nats' pitching coach Mike Maddux talked excitedly recently about the possibility of Roark returning to the rotation in 2016 after he "came out of nowhere a couple of years ago," won, "15 ballgames" and then went and sat, "...on his thumb last year out in the bullpen."
Asked if Roark would return to the rotation this season, Maddux said, "I would anticipate that. Why not?"
"It's his job to lose. I mean, he's come out of, like I said, nowhere a couple of years ago and won 15 ballgames and then there were some acquisitions and some health -- that there was some resurgence of guys added to the roster last year that kind of knocked him out. But you've got to admire a guy like him, holy cow. I mean, talk about the typical blue collar layman that goes out and wins fifteen ballgames and makes a little notch in his belt for him. That's pretty good. Easy to root for, and I'm rooting for him big time."
When Rizzo was asked again at the Winter Meetings about potential rotation additions, he described the Nationals' interest in adding arms as "tepid":
"It's not a necessity for us right now, but we're always in the market to improve the ballclub in any way we can. If we have to strengthen a strength or try to refine a weakness, there are different levels and different strategies that are going on all the time."
in the last few days, the Nats have been tied to two different free agent starters, both of them left-handers. MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote recently that a source told him, "free agent Wei-Yin Chen is on the radar," but questioned, "whether the team is willing to give him a five-year deal."
Chen, 30, is coming off an (11-8) campaign in his fourth major league season in Baltimore, which saw him post a 3.34 ERA, a 4.16 FIP, 41 walks (1.93 BB/9) and 153 Ks (7.20 K/9) in 31 starts and 191 ⅓ innings.
He is, however, as mentioned, reportedly looking for a 5-year/$100M deal. Are the Nationals going to spend $100M to add a second left-hander to the rotation?
According to a report by USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale this morning, they're also reportedly showing interest in left-hander Scott Kazmir:
Kazmir, 31, is coming of a (7-11) season with the Oakland A's and Houston Astros which saw him put up a 3.10 ERA, a 3.98 FIP, 59 walks (2.90 BB/9) and 155 Ks (7.62 K/9) in 31 starts and 183 IP.
Will Roark and Ross start the season in the Nationals' rotation? Will the Nats strengthen a strength this winter and make an addition to their starting staff? Do they need to?
"We think that we have five qualified and quality starters that we match with anybody in the division," Rizzo said at the Winter Meetings. "We have the primary, secondary pitching depth that we have in the Taylor Jordans, the A.J. Coles, those prospect type of guys and of course we have the second wave of prospects coming with [Lucas] Giolito, [Austin] Voth, [Reynaldo] Lopez and that group."
Do they need to add more depth at the major league level?