Mike Rizzo confirmed reports which said that the Washington Nationals made an offer to 27-year-old, free agent right-hander Mike Leake when the Nats' GM spoke to reporters today on the third day of the Winter Meetings in Nashville's Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
"We've made several offers to a lot of people and we're kind of vetting the responses and seeing what we have at the end of it," Rizzo explained.
So how serious is the interest in Leake, who pitched for newly-hired Nationals' manager Dusty Baker from 2010-2013 when both were with the Cincinnati Reds, who selected Leake eighth overall in the 1st Round of the '09 Draft?
"It's as serious as a lot of the talks that we have," Rizzo said. "We're checking in on a lot of fronts, both pitching and position player-wise. I wouldn't describe it as any further along than a lot of other things that we have."
He also added that the Nationals didn't necessarily view starting pitching as a pressing need though they were willing to explore their options.
"I would describe it as tepid," he said of the Nationals' interest level when it comes to adding a starter.
"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."
Baker has history with Leake, and Rizzo said the Nationals are familiar with the veteran of six major league seasons who was (11-10) with a 3.70 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 49 walks (2.30 BB/9) and 119 Ks (5.58 K/9) in 192 IP in 2015, over which he was worth 1.7 fWAR.
"We're very familiar with him," Rizzo noted. "He's a very athletic pitcher, does a lot of things right and like I said, he's one of many things that we've got in the fire right now."
Rizzo talked earlier this week about being comfortable with the Nationals' top five pitchers (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross), but as he said then, they're not against the idea of adding arms to the mix.
"We think that we have five qualified and quality starters that we match up with anybody in the division," he said today.
"We have the primary, secondary pitching depth that we have in the Taylor Jordans, the A.J. Coles, those prospect type of guys," Rizzo explained.
"And of course we have the second wave of prospects coming with [Lucas] Giolito, [Austin] Voth, [Reynaldo] Lopez and that group."
The Nationals are examining their options while the baseball world is gathered in Tennessee, and as Rizzo put it, they will see what comes of the discussions they are having at the Winter Meetings, which he described as "laying a lot of groundwork."
"Some things come together faster than others, but if we were to leave here without making an impactful trade or free agent signing, it wouldn't shock me, but it also wouldn't shock me if we did something here."