NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. - Both closers Washington’s Nationals are reportedly pursuing as the Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center come to an end, fit the description GM Mike Rizzo gave on Wednesday afternoon of the type of pitcher that makes sense for the organization to pursue.
After missing out on Mark Melancon (4-years/$62M from the Giants), trying to acquire Wade Davis (who went to the Cubs for Jorge Soler) and even taking a run at fireballing left-hander Aroldis Chapman (who got a record for a reliever five-year/$86M deal from the Yankees), the Nats are reportedly talking to Tampa Bay about Alex Colome while making a play for hard-throwing free agent right-hander Kenley Jansen, whose choice has reportedly come down to Washington, Miami or a return to Los Angeles.
After acquiring Melancon from Pittsburgh in July and then losing him to free agency this winter, Rizzo was asked if he was looking for a controllable late-inning arm who could bring some stability to a bullpen that has featured four different closers in the last four years (Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen, Jonathan Papelbon and Melancon).
“Obviously you’d like to have a guy with more control,” Rizzo said.
Marlins, Nationals & Dodgers awaiting word on Kenley Jansen. Possible he decides today but not certain.... https://t.co/AseMadCyFF— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 8, 2016
“The more control the better, that adds value to any player, but you have to be open-minded. The back end of the bullpen is a tricky thing and you have to get the right fit, the right skill set and right mindset.”
With the market coming into focus as closers were traded or signed, Rizzo said he was not ruling out the possibility of the Nationals finding a fit.
“There are different avenues,” he said, repeating a variant of his Winter Meetings mantra.
“We’re looking at the trade market, the free agent market and trying to find value and opportunity.”
Colome, who earned $521,700 in 2016 in Tampa Bay, is one year away from arbitration-eligibility and under team control through the 2020 campaign. Jansen reportedly has a 5-year/$80+ offer on the table from the Marlins. Either way, the Nationals would add a closer who could conceivably give them a reliable ninth inning option for the next few seasons, barring performance or injury issues.
Rizzo also noted that in spite of their efforts to bring in a high-end arm, the Nationals have options among the pitchers already in the organization.
Alex Colome is another closing option for nats, though he won't be an easy get— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 8, 2016
“We have several internal options. You know all the names. There are good options available. Guys that are one year further experienced from last year and guys that have the skill set, the stuff and the make-up to do it.
“So we’re confident that we can cobble together a bullpen that helps us compete.”
Rizzo wouldn’t give anything away as far as revealing which particular relievers they were going after, but he said that when it came to the remaining free agent options, he didn’t think, “... agents are going to rule us out of anything.”
“We’re confident that we can improve ourselves in all facets of our roster including that one.”
As far as whether they can spend what it would take to bring in one of this winter’s big-ticket relievers?
“We've said from the beginning we have the flexibility financially to do something,” Rizzo said.
Since then, they’ve reportedly chased Chapman and pursued Jansen, and talked to the Rays about Colome.