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Washington Nationals Rumors: Nats miss out on Ben Zobrist too... so now what?

The Washington Nationals are reportedly in the market for a left-handed bat. They made no secret of their interest in switch-hitting utility man Ben Zobrist, but the veteran IF/OF reportedly signed with the Chicago Cubs tonight. So now what?

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spent more than a few minutes of his second Winter Meetings press conference on Tuesday night discussing the Nats' rumored pursuit of free agent utility man Ben Zobrist.

"We put a nice, hard push to acquire a really good player," Rizzo said, "and we'll see what place he chooses to play, but the effort -- we put a good effort in place and we think he's a guy that would help the club."

Though the Nationals didn't meet face-to-face with the 34-year-old Zobrist today as it was rumored they would, Rizzo said they made their pitch.

"We put a nice, hard push to acquire a really good player, and we'll see what place he chooses to play, but the effort -- we put a good effort in place..." -Mike Rizzo on trying to sign Ben Zobrist

"I've talked to his people, I haven't spoken to him directly, but we've spoken to his people on several occasions over the week," he explained.

Asked if he thought Zobrist's decision might come soon as several reports today speculated, Rizzo said he really was not sure.

"I'm not sure. I don't have a real sense of when he's going to make a decision. I think that it could be as early as the [Winter] Meetings, but it could drag on past the Meetings."

It did not drag on past the Winter Meetings...

Zobrist reportedly agreed on a 4-year/$56M deal with the Chicago Cubs tonight, after they swooped in out of nowhere when the decision was reportedly between the Nationals and New York Mets according to most reports.

It was the second swing and miss of the winter for the Nationals, who were reportedly a finalist for free agent reliever Darren O'Day as well before he decided to return to the Baltimore Orioles on a four-year deal.

So where do the Nationals turn next?

The Nationals were pursuing Zobrist to play second base, as Rizzo explained last night, but he told reporters today that he's comfortable with the middle infield options the Nationals have right now.

"We've got good depth at the shortstop position," he said.

"We feel comfortable that Danny Espinosa, [Yunel] Escobar, Trea Turner, [Wilmer] Difo can all play shortstop and second base so we feel good about where we're at in the middle infield."

Dusty Baker, in his own press conference today was asked where he thought the Nationals could upgrade their current roster?

"You're always in need of left-handed pitching, left-handed hitting, and in need of speed," Baker said.

[ed. note - "The following may explain why the rumored meeting between Zobrist and the Nationals did not take place today..."]: