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Washington Nationals Rumors: Are the Nats interested in Jake Arrieta?

Will the Nationals spend big to bolster their rotation or do you see them adding back-end depth? Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that sources said they’ve considered Jake Arrieta...

Divisional Round - Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs - Game Four Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

“You never have enough starting pitching,” Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in a mid-November interview. “You’ve heard me say that many, many times.”

“We’ve got four extremely good starting pitchers on the roster now, in Max [Scherzer], and [Stephen Strasburg], and Gio [Gonzalez], and Tanner [Roark],” Rizzo continued.

“We’ve got some good young arms that really pitched well for us last year, in A.J. Cole — his last six starts were great. Erick Fedde, he’s going to be healthy and have his second year with us next year. And then we go to the minor leagues and we’ve got depth there.”

“We’re going seven or eight deep, which is what you need in the big leagues. But you never have enough starting pitching, and if opportunities arise that we see as a value, we’ll jump on it aggressively like we always do.”

Rizzo, as Ken Rosenthal noted in a rumor roundup at The Athletic this morning (which is subscription only), isn’t known as someone to, “... settle for mid-to back-end types,“ so, Rosenthal says, “... [n]o one should be surprised if the GM pursues a splashier option.”

This is the same GM who added Max Scherzer to an already impressive rotation back in 2015, of course.

Will Rizzo settle for starting the season with four solid starters and some questionable depth that may or may not provide what they need in a fifth starter? Will he go big or add depth?

Rosenthal, in his story this morning, throws out the possibility of a trade for Pittsburgh Pirates’ starter Gerrit Cole, noting that the Nationals and Pirates are familiar with one another’s organizations after all the Andrew McCutchen talks they participated in last winter, while mentioning the prospect depth (Fedde, Carter Kieboom, Daniel Johnson, Kelvin Gutierrez, and Raudy Read) that the Nats can deal from without having to trade the likes of top prospects Victor Robles or Juan Soto.

A deal for Cole is just speculation on Rosenthal’s part, however. He cites sources in saying that the Nationals, “... are kicking around the idea,” of pursuing free agent starter Jake Arrieta, who is, of course, a Scott Boras client, which means speculation like this was inevitable given the history of deals between Boras’ clients and the Nats.

The Nationals are considering the possibility, Rosenthal writes, “... knowing Fedde is not quite ready while Gonzalez is a free agent after 2018 and Roark after ‘19.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, hit free agency this winter coming off a 2017 campaign in Chicago which saw the right-hander put up a 3.53 ERA, a 4.16 FIP, 55 walks (2.94 BB/9), 163 Ks (8.71 K/9), and a .234/.305/.411 line against in 168 13 innings pitched, with his second-half numbers (2.28 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 2.69 BB/9, 8.19 K/9, .213/.280/.394 line against in 67 IP) an improvement over those he put up in a rough first half (4.35 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 3.11 BB/9, 9.06 K/9, .247/.320/.422 in 101 13 IP).

MLBTraderumors.com is predicting that Arrieta will look for a five or six-year deal and eventually settle for something like a 4-year/$100M contract.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman suggested a 5-year/$125M for Jake Arrieta in his own free agent predictions.

Boras (humorously?) described Arrieta as, “a big squirrel with a lot of nuts in his trees,” when he talked about the free agent starter stepping up under postseason pressure in a conversation with reporters at the General Managers’ Meetings early last month.

Will Boras steer another client to the nation’s capital this winter? Will the Nationals try to strengthen a strength and add a better-than-back-of-the-rotation arm to the mix?

Do you see the Nationals spending big on a starter?

Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes wrote, in a story from the GM’s Meetings, that Rizzo said he didn’t plan on pursuing a front line starter, but said, “I do foresee going after some depth in the starting rotation.”

WWRD? What will Rizzo do? Will we find out at the Winter Meetings, which start next week?