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Washington Nationals Rumors: Outfield bat? Closer? Trea Turner to short?

Former Nationals’ GM Jim Bowden had a number of Nats-related rumors to share this morning.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

In wrapping up the week that was at the General Managers’ Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes wrote that Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo used the opportunity to lay the groundwork for future discussions.

“There’s interest in our guys, and we have interest in other teams’ guys,” Rizzo said, as quoted by the WaPost reporter.

“But these meetings are more about building foundations and seeing if there’s any kind of matches.”

Will the Nationals find an outfielder? A closer? Will they trade Danny Espinosa? Will Trea Turner move back to short? Will the Nats consider adding starting pitching?

What about a catcher? Where are the young, controllable options out there that Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office prefer?

Former Nats’ GM and current MLB Network host and ESPN analyst Jim Bowden posted a number of rumors this morning, some odd, some interesting.

With Mark Melancon now a free agent, the Nationals are back in the market for a late-inning arm.

Rizzo told reporters, including the WaPost’s Chelsea Janes late last month that the Nationals would, of course, like to add a proven closer to the bullpen mix.

“In a perfect world, you’d always like to have a guy that’s [closed] in the most competitive situations,” Rizzo said. “But that’s not always possible.”

Bowden wrote this morning that the Nationals, “... are committed to landing an impact closer and will make a strong effort to land either Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman or re-sign Mark Melancon.”

If that doesn’t work, he adds, Washington could try to convince Cleveland to deal left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, “... for a package of top pitching prospects.”

Rizzo also explained earlier this week that he would consider dealing Danny Espinosa after another season of the shortstop impressing on defense, hitting home runs and striking out a ton.

As Rizzo put it at the GM Meetings earlier this week, he can, “... see [Espinosa] as a player you could utilize in a trade context to get another piece that you need.”

While the Nats love Espinosa’s “... glove, arm and power,” Bowden wrote this morning, “.... they've given up on his bat,” and are considering moving Turner back to short.

Rizzo addressed that possibility recently, telling reporters in a conference call that he thinks Turner could move back to his original position after spending time in center field this season.

“What he has shown is that he can excel at shortstop, he can excel at second base and in center field,” Rizzo said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “It allows us to build around that, meaning that it gives us more options in the marketplace to improve the ballclub.”

Rizzo pointed to Turner’s versatility again last week when he discussed the possibility of moving the 23-year-old back to short, explaining that they see the 2014 1st Round pick as a potential everyday shortstop in the majors.

Moving Turner back to short would, of course, mean that the Nationals would need to add an outfielder unless they are comfortable going with Ben Revere, Michael A. Taylor or another option (Brian Goodwin?). Bowden wrote this morning that the Nationals will take another run at Yoenis Cespedes, after trying to sign the outfielder to a free agent deal last winter.

“When [Cespedes] played for the Mets, the guy scared me,” Rizzo told reporters, including NY Post writer Joel Sherman, this week.

“He’s a really good offensive player. He’s a really good two-way player. He is a middle-of-the-lineup bat. He improves any team he plays for.”

While Rizzo discussed the possibility of Bryce Harper playing center if the Nationals were to sign a corner outfielder, Bowden wrote this morning that they, “... could play [Cespedes] in center field for the first year of the contract and then move him to left when Jayson Werth's contract expires after next season.”

Bowden also mentions the possibility of the Nationals pursuing White Sox’ lefty Chris Sale, if he’s made available, noting that a top of the rotation including Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Sale would be impressive.

He also mentions he was told the Nationals offered Strasburg to the Dodgers last winter in return for LA’s shortstop Corey Seager, straight-up, though the Dodgers turned them down. Wait, what?

That was, of course, before the Nationals signed Strasburg to a 7-year/$175M extension, before Strasburg suffered a partially torn pronator tendon... and before Seager went on to put together an MVP-worthy 2016 campaign.