The Washington Nationals have been here before... just this past weekend... actually. Free agent submariner Darren O'Day's decision on which team to sign with this winter had reportedly come down to the Nats and Baltimore Orioles he'd pitched for over the last four seasons. Reports on Sunday, which O'Day later challenged with a message on Twitter, said the 33-year-old reliever agreed to return to the O's on a four-year deal. There's still nothing official from either side...
Now there are reports that the Nationals are also a finalist for another free agent target, veteran utility man Ben Zobrist:
Dodgers love zobrist but he might be a better fit for nats, giants or mets as LA is currently constructed— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 7, 2015
Washington Post writer James Wagner quoted sources today who said the Nationals, "... are expected to meet with... switch-hitting veteran infielder-outfielder Ben Zobrist, on Tuesday in Nashville."
Zobrist is reportedly expected to sign a four-year deal this winter coming off a .276/.359/.450 campaign during which he played for the Oakland A's and World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, hitting 36 doubles and 13 HRs over 126 games and 535 plate appearances, finishing the year at 2.1 fWAR (which was actually down from 6.3, 5.8, 5.0 and 5.5 fWAR, respectively, over the previous four seasons).
If the Nationals lose out to the Giants, Mets, Dodgers or the inevitable mystery team, ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote on Twitter today that they have explored other options as they look for an infielder and left-handed bat:
Zobrist is primary INF target on the Nats' radar,but have also looked at Jimmy Rollins as stopgap SS/leadoff man before Trea Turner arrival.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 7, 2015
Rollins, 37, played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, after 15 seasons with the Nationals' NL East rivals from Philadelphia.
Over 144 games and 563 plate appearances, the veteran infielder and switch hitter, put up a .224/.285/.358 line with 24 doubles and 13 HRs in a 0.2 fWAR campaign (down from 3.8 fWAR in 2014).
Rollins lost his starting job to Dodgers' rookie infielder Corey Seager late last season, but as the WaPost's Wagner wrote last week, in an article about the Nationals at least kicking the tires on Rollins, "... he could provide experience and leadership," and, "Seager credited Rollins as a mentor after his call-up."
Trea Turner, who is expected to take over at short full-time in the near future, could do a lot worse in terms of potential mentors.
Can the Nationals talk Zobrist into signing on in the nation's capital? They'll get their chance tomorrow, unless he signs somewhere before then: