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Washington Nationals' 2016 rotation: Wouldn't Zack Greinke make a great addition?

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Zack Greinke considered allowing a trade to the Washington Nationals in 2010. When he was a free agent in 2012, there were plenty of rumors of interest on the Nationals' part. If he opts out of his deal with the Dodgers, will the Nats try again?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In discussing the Washington Nationals' approach to negotiations on contract extensions with pending free agents like Jordan Zimmermann (a free agent this winter unless he re-signs) and 2009 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg (under team control through 2016), both of whom are on their "second elbows" after having Tommy John surgery, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell suggested last winter that in Zimmermann's case, previous talks likely centered around a deal similar to what another free-agent-to-be, Ian Desmond, was reportedly offered.

The offer, he suggested, was, "probably similar to their $107 million offer to Ian Desmond." He also noted that, "if you include Zimmermann’s current $16.5 million for 2015, he’s likely in the same $125 million ballpark as the total-dollar deals to Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman."

"Balls out of the strike zone, on the plate, down on the plate, is the way he pitches, establishes low strikes and feeds off aggressiveness down on the plate..." -Matt Williams on difficulty of facing Zack Greinke, July 2015

Zimmermann seemed likely to walk then, especially after Max Scherzer signed a 7-year/$210M deal, and, the WaPost writer noted, "... the Zimmermann Farewell Scenario is playing out again right now, letter for letter, with Strasburg."

If the Nationals allow Zimmermann and then Strasburg to walk, who fills in the rotation?

ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote in a chat on Thursday that he would plug A.J. Cole and Tanner Roark into the rotation next season, with Zimmermann and Doug Fister likely gone.

That, of course, leaves Joe Ross out after an impressive run by the 22-year-old right-hander this season, but Law was responding extemporaneously in a chat, so perhaps he forgot Ross (or just prefers Cole and Roark), but either way the three of the seem like they're in line to compete for spots in the rotation behind Scherzer, Strasburg and lefty Gio Gonzalez.

With the money coming off the books with the departure of Zimmermann ($16.5M), Fister ($11.4M), Desmond ($11M) and Denard Span ($9M), among others, could the Nationals wade into the free agent market this winter to bolster their rotation?

Boswell estimated that the Nationals are likely to trim $60M-ish off their payroll this winter, which would certainly put them in a position to spend some, factoring in raises for a number of arbitration-eligible players and assuming they come close to the $160M+ they're spending this year and there might be a Cy-Young-worthy pitcher available this winter, and it's one that the Nationals have expressed interest in before.

"What got us talking seriously was the fact their owner wants to win really, really bad," Greinke said. "They convinced me they were really trying, and I believe them..." -Greinke on Nationals to WaPost writer Dave Sheinin, 2012

Multiple reports this season have suggested that Los Angeles Dodgers' right-hander Zack Greinke will opt out of his deal and become a free agent.

Greinke, who turns 32 this winter, will more likely, Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo and YahooSports.com's Jeff Passan suggest, get a five-year deal as opposed to a six or seven-year contract because of his age.

An NL GM Cafardo speaks to suggests a 5-year/$150M deal, "seems to be a good starting point," though he says it could go higher and LA can afford to pay him that much.

Passan talks to a general manager, noting Greinke's age as well, who says that the righty probably won't get a six or seven-year deal, but suggests he, "... could instead break [Clayton] Kershaw's record for average annual value on a deal and sign for five years and $175 million."

No one is talking about the Nationals as potential suitors for Greinke now, but when he's been available in the past, Washington has expressed interest.

Before he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010, Greinke, according to a report by Washington Post writer Dave Sheinen, met with "high-ranking team officials" including managing principal owner Ted Lerner at the Winter Meetings that year, and he told Sheinen a year later that he considered the possibility of allowing a trade to the Nationals.

"What got us talking seriously was the fact their owner wants to win really, really bad," Greinke said.

"They convinced me they were really trying, and I believe them. My whole family liked the possibility of going there. I respect everything about the Nationals. And I’m not a guy who goes around saying that about every team."

Greinke was tied to the Nationals via rumor before he signed his free agent deal with the Dodgers to the point that GM Mike Rizzo was asked about potential interest in the right-hander. Did he like Greinke?

"What's not to like?" he said, as quoted by former Washington Times writer Amanda Comak.

Could the Nationals make a run at Greinke again this winter if he does opt out of his deal with the Dodgers? They definitely have the money to pay the one-time Cy Young award-winner. They've expressed interest in Greinke in previous years.

Scherzer, Greinke, Strasburg, Gonzalez and one of Ross/Roark/Cole? Likely? Probably not, but a fan/writer covering the team can dream, right?