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Washington Nationals Rumors: Ben Zobrist? Plan B for Nats' bullpen upgrade?

Teams like the Washington Nationals, who are in the market for relief help this winter, are watching one option after another fall off the board. What will the Nats do to upgrade their relief corps? The latest on Ben Zobrist?

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The Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds were reportedly talking about a potential trade for the Reds' flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman last night, but as of this morning, there were reports that a number of teams were discussing the possibility of acquiring the 27-year-old closer:

That talk ended with a tweet from's Ken Rosenthal, who reported that the Reds and Dodgers agreed on a deal this morning:

And Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo's goal of improving the Nats' bullpen just got a little harder. How serious a possibility Chapman was for the Nationals is unclear.

They've reportedly inquired about the southpaw's availability over the last few years, and found the price the Reds were asking in return prohibitive.

"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..." -Mike Rizzo on Nationals' need to add relievers this winter

With Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and (potentially) Darren O'Day off the market (assuming O'Day's deal with the Baltimore Orioles gets done), where do the Nationals turn now as they attempt to improve their bullpen as they've said they plan to this winter?

If any of the aforementioned options were Plan A, what is Plan B for Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals' front office?

Do they talk to the New York Yankees about Andrew Miller, who may or may not be available? Do they inquire about Tampa Bay Rays' relievers Brad Boxberger or Jake McGee? Should we scour the major league rosters for the young, controllable relievers Rizzo is probably looking at?

Do they find a way to make things work with Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen, both of whom are under contract for 2016?

Do all the recent signings give them better options when it comes to potentially trading one or the other or both?

Papelbon's decision to file a grievance against the Nationals over his pay during his suspension for the dugout altercation with Bryce Harper doesn't help with his image in the nation's capital.

Will it affect the Nats' thinking as to whether or not they can bring the veteran reliever back to D.C. in 2016?


The Nationals were reportedly one of two teams Darren O'Day considered before (again, reportedly, even though he's said no deal is done) returning to the Orioles on what is believed to be a four-year deal.

The Nationals are also reportedly one of four teams in consideration for 34-year-old super-utility man Ben Zobrist, who is looking for a new home after helping the Kansas City Royals win the World Series in 2015:

Zobrist would give the Nationals the left-handed bat they're reportedly after this winter. Would he play second base in D.C. if signed, allowing the Nats to sell high Yunel Escobar after a big offensive year?

Are the Nationals okay with Escobar and Danny Espinosa in some combination in the middle of the infield if Trea Turner doesn't win the shortstop job out of Spring Training? Does Wilmer Difo figure in the Nats' plans or is he going to start at Triple-A and work his way up? Do the Nationals need an infield upgrade?