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Washington Nationals Rumors: Nats still pursuing outfielder/center fielder?

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According to multiple reports, the Washington Nationals are continuing to pursue an outfielder, preferably one who can play center. What does it mean for Michael Taylor? Could they bring back Denard Span? Will they make a trade or sign a free agent?

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

After the Washington Nationals' ultimately fruitless pursuit of Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters about the Nats' ongoing plans to improve the roster this winter.

Missing out on Heyward, in particular, who was reportedly offered somewhere around $200M before he signed with the Chicago Cubs, was disappointing, Rizzo admitted, but, he said, "... those things are expected."

"We have alternative plans for everything that we get done and for things that we don't get done, so we wish him well and we'll certainly make arrangements to improve the roster in other ways."

"There [are] a lot of things and possibilities that we can do via the free agent market and the trade market. So we're going to see what fits for us nicely and what deals we can make." -Mike Rizzo on looking for ways to improve the Nationals' roster

Asked if the Nationals would continue to pursue a left-handed bat to play second base or center, Rizzo reiterated, that there were other options to pursue.

"There [are] a lot of things and possibilities that we can do via the free agent market and the trade market.

"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."

The Nationals found a second baseman last week, signing free agent infielder Daniel Murphy to a 3-year/$37.5M deal.

According to a report from FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi last night, Rizzo and Co. in D.C. are continuing to pursue an outfielder, preferably one who can play center:

Rizzo talked earlier this winter, as quoted by Washington Post writer James Wagner, about being comfortable with veteran outfielder Jayson Werth, second-year center fielder Michael Taylor and NL MVP Bryce Harper left-to-right around the Nationals' outfield:

"I wouldn’t think we’d be big players for one of the big free agent outfielders," said Rizzo, adding that this was his assessment of the moment. "We like the three guys that we have. We think Michael Taylor is going to be a terrific major league player."

Denard Span, the Nationals' center fielder for the previous three seasons, missed significant time after two offseason surgeries and back and hip issues in 2015 which led to a third procedure late in the year, but Rizzo didn't rule out the possibility of bringing him back.

"[Span is] a guy that we really enjoyed his time here and the main thing about him is we have to see where his health is as we move forward in the offseason." -Mike Rizzo on the possibility of bringing Denard Span back to D.C.

"We certainly have kept in contact with him and several other players," Rizzo said at Nationals WinterFest.

"He's a guy that we really enjoyed his time here and the main thing about him is we have to see where his health is as we move forward in the offseason."

As for other free agent and trade possibilities? "There [are] a lot of things and possibilities that we can do via the free agent market and the trade market," Rizzo added.

"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."

"The Nationals could also use another strong outfielder," WaPost writer James Wagner wrote on Monday, "someone who could play every day should Werth, or others, suffer injuries or if Michael A. Taylor struggles in his second year. Maybe a solution to both of those concerns could be the same player."

Wagner mentioned Span, "Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson and Gerardo Parra," as free agent options, "... or, on the trade market, the Colorado Rockies trio of left-handed-hitting outfielders, Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon."

The Nationals reportedly checked in on Gonzalez earlier this winter, but found the Rockies' asking price to be high.

Parra has long been rumored of interest to Rizzo as well.

MLB.com's Bill Ladson too wrote this morning that after the Nationals' pursuit of Heyward this winter, "... one gets the impression that the team sees Taylor as a fourth outfielder."

"The Nationals are looking for a left-handed bat to protect Bryce Harper. They have talked to the Rockies about slugger Carlos Gonzalez, who hasn't played center field in several years. The Nats believe that Harper is best suited for right field. They could also trade for Blackmon to play center."

Can the Nationals find an everyday center fielder? Do they need one? Taylor, in his first full major league season, put up a .229/.282/.358 line with 15 doubles and 14 home runs in 138 games and 511 plate appearances, over which the 24-year-old, who'll turn 25 in March, was worth 1.0 fWAR.

Asked about the Nats' rumored pursuit of another outfielder, Taylor told reporters it wasn't something he was thinking about as he prepared for 2016.

"That's something that I'm not focused on right now," Taylor said. "I feel like with my game if I go out there and be the best I can that's really all I can do and kind of see where the chips fall after that."