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Washington Nationals Rumors: Nats’ closer search, GM Mike Rizzo on high-end relievers

Where do the Washington Nationals turn after missing out on a few of their top targets at the Winter Meetings?

Washington Nationals Introduce Dusty Baker Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. - The Washington Nationals made an attempt to sign closer Mark Melancon as the 2016 Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center got underway on Monday, only watch the reliever sign a 4-year/$62M deal with the San Francisco Giants.

The Nationals made plays for Chris Sale before he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox on Day 2, and Kansas City Royals’ closer Wade Davis, who is reportedly headed to Chicago to join the Cubs.

Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters on Tuesday afternoon about moving on to the next targets and trying to see what, if anything, they can accomplish this week, while noting that things didn’t necessarily have to get done over the next few days.

“We’ve done some of our best deals after the Meetings,” Rizzo said.

“We’ve got a lot of offseason left so we’re going to be active and aggressive and keep plugging along.”

“We have a strategy and plan. We have a Plan A through Plan Z. So you have to have a strategy, you have to employ a strategy and you have to be true to it.”

Sale was a unique player that was available, so the Nationals took a shot. Whether or not they’ll continue to pursue starters is unclear.

They need a closer, though where they’ll turn now is also unclear and the Nationals are known to be in the market for an outfield bat though they’ve thus far been unable to find the right deal.

Word on Tuesday, after they missed out on Sale, was that the Nationals would return to their pursuit of Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen.’s bow-tied reporter, Ken Rosenthal, wrote on Wednesday morning about where things stood for the “host city” of the Winter Meetings:

“The Nats consider themselves a longshot to sign free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, according to major-league sources; his price likely will exceed their comfort level, and the same probably is true with Kenley Jansen. They also are not certain they want to part with the talent necessary to land center fielder Andrew McCutchen; the Pirates are setting the bar high.”

Miami is reportedly willing to offer Kenley Jansen as much as five years and $80M.

Word from USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale last night was that one unnamed team had offered Aroldis Chapman $92M, and early this morning the speculation is that both of the high-end closers are expected to sign soon.

Will the Nationals make a play for either of the two top relievers on the market, or look at the second tier of free agent relievers?

Will they pursue other trade options for a late-inning arm?

Rizzo was asked on Tuesday if five or six-year deals like Jansen and Chapman are reportedly seeking are a realistic expectation?

“It’s realistic if somebody gives it to you,” Rizzo said. “It’s a world of supply and demand and it only takes one team to make a deal. I don’t think anything is unthinkable.”

Asked directly if a closer was now the Nationals’ top priority, Rizzo went to what have been his stock responses to anyone looking for specifics about what’s going on behind scenes at the Winter Meetings.

“We’ve got a lot of lines in the water,” he said.

“We’re looking at a lot of different options and avenues to go. We’re looking at a lot of different options and avenues to go and we’re very active here and will continue to be.”