Today is the official start of the Winter Meetings in D.C. (or National Harbor/Oxon Hill, MD really), with the entire baseball world gathering at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, which hosts the annual gathering this time around.
The Hot Stove rumors involving the Washington Nationals started up earlier this week, however, with word of continued discussions with the Pittsburgh Pirates about Andrew McCutchen, though things have quieted down on that front since word of the ongoing talks between the two teams resurfaced this week.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, who wrote earlier this month about the Nats and Bucs talking McCutchen this summer before trading relievers (Felipe Rivero — and minor leaguer Taylor Hearn for Mark Melancon), wrote on Twitter last night that the Nationals continued to talk to the Pirates about their veteran outfielder whilst simultaneously discussing left-handed starter Chris Sale with the White Sox.
Jon Heyman too, in an article on Friday night at FanRag Sports, wrote about the Nats’ interest in both Sale and McCutchen, reporting that the, “... Nationals also have been one of the main five teams in on the Chris Sale derby, but it’s possible their refusal to include Trea Turner has hindered those talks, leaving McCutchen as their best upgrade option.”
In a follow-up article this afternoon, Heyman noted that the Nationals’ NL East rivals, the Atlanta Braves, are taking a similarly staunch attitude when it comes to their top shortstop prospect, Dansby Swanson, with “rival executives” telling him, “Swanson is not being made available in trade talks,” regarding Sale, though he goes on to write that both teams have the prospect depth to pull off a deal with the White Sox’ lefty even if Turner and Swanson are unavailable:
“Beyond the untouchable Swanson, Atlanta has MLB Pipelines’s #12 (Ozzie Albies), #46 (Sean Newcomb), #60 (Kolby Allard), #77 (Ian Anderson), #89 (Kevin Maiten), and #90 (Mike Soroka) overall prospects.
“The Nats have some top young players and pitchers as well, including Lucas Giolito (#3), Victor Robles (#10), Reynaldo Lopez (#37), and Erick Fedde (#75).”
The rest of the market for Sale is made up of the Astros, Rangers, Red Sox and Dodgers according to Heyman, who notes that, “... in some cases they’ve be in and out of the talks.”
As of late last night, the Nationals were also said to be one of the teams with a four-year offer on the table for Melancon, who was said to be weighing his offers with a decision expected soon, though, as of yet, no official announcement has been made.
Will the trades get done once everyone is in D.C. (or National Harbor/Oxon Hill, MD really), if they haven’t arrived already?
Heyman wrote another article this afternoon in which he suggests that the Nationals, “... believe they can probably afford two of the three stars they covet,” between Sale, McCutchen and Melancon, though he writes that Washington is, “... cognizant of the $195 million luxury tax threshold for 2017 as part of the new CBA and would rather avoid it.”
“The other issue, of course, is that while they have strong prospects to offer, they may not have enough to land both Sale and McCutchen in trade,” Heyman adds, but they’re taking, “... an ultra-aggressive stance partly due to a coming window, with several key players in their primes and big stars Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy under team control for two more years.”
MEANWHILE: While the Nationals appeared to have acquired their everyday catcher in the trade with the Padres for Derek Norris on Friday night, MASNSports.com reporter Roch Kubatko says, “Not so fast.”:
“There’s a sense in the industry that the Nationals will pursue [Matt] Wieters and flip Norris if they get him. Norris is a nice fallback option. It’s the proactive approach.”
Just when you thought the Scott Boras/Nationals/Wieters conspiracy theories were dead...