Before Washington signed veteran catcher Matt Wieters last week, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports hosts Craig Mish and Jim Bowden that he liked the depth behind the plate in the organization.
"We like our catching depth that we have in camp right now,” Rizzo explained. “We're deep, our young players, [Pedro] Severino, we've got Raudy Read who we added to our 40-man roster along with [Jose] Lobaton and [Derek] Norris at the big league level, we like our depth there."
After the Nationals gave Wieters a 1-year/$10.5M deal (with a $10.5M option for 2018 and an opt-out after year one), Rizzo told reporters, including MASNSports.com’s Mark Zuckerman, that the Nats’ interested changed when the price tag on the 30-year-old catcher dropped.
“We touched base early in the winter, like we do with a lot of free agents,” Rizzo said.
“We had limited interest at the time, at that level. And it kind of went dormant for several weeks, until we kind of circled back and saw what their interest level is, and what we’re looking at with years and numbers and that kind of thing. And when we did that, we had some mutual interest.”
Asked after the Wieters signing was official about the Nationals’ rumored interest in a trade for a closer, Rizzo, who’d recently said he thought the closer would come from one of Washington’s in-house options at this point, told reporters he was happy with the depth the Nats have in camp this Spring.
“Nothing’s changed,” Rizzo said. “We like the group of guys that we have in camp. And we’re looking forward to having one of them step up and take that late-inning job.”
Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo speculated this weekend, in his Sunday Baseball Notes column, that there is a, “... belief that the Nationals could still make a deal for [David] Robertson, even after talks broke down,” if Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office are willing to include 23-year-old backstop Pedro Severino in a deal.
“With the Wieters addition, the Nats now have four catchers in Derek Norris, Jose Lobaton, and prospect Pedro Severino. If Rizzo elects to give up Severino, that deal could regain traction. The Nats really need an established closer.”
The Nationals and the White Sox’ closer have been tied to one another before, when the Nats were in the market for a closer last summer and since December, when the two teams worked out a deal for outfielder Adam Eaton.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal wrote earlier this winter, that the Nationals don’t want to deal any more prospects after including Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 1st Round pick Dane Dunning in the package that landed Eaton, according to his sources.
Cafardo isn’t the only one hearing that the inclusion of Severino could get the talks for Robertson back on track:
The Nats would prefer to trade Derek Norris after adding Matt Wieters but it's Severino who interests #Whitesox. Robertson is in WBC.— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) February 22, 2017
FanRagSports.com’s Jon Heyman wrote this week that while the Nationals and White Sox discussed Robertson, the teams, “... were never really close on a trade during the winter.”
The issue, according to Heyman?:
“The issue is this: if you talk to a Nats person, he’ll suggest the White Sox don’t behave like they really want to trade him, and if you ask a ChiSox person, he’ll say the Nats just weren’t very aggressive.”
Now that the Nationals have Wieters, Heyman suggested, they can “trade from their catching depth, and the Sox, “... could use a young catcher and Pedro Severino could make sense.”
Will Rizzo and Co. be willing to deal Severino before Opening Day if none of their in-house options step up this Spring?
Will the Nationals keep their “catcher of the future” in the organization and trust that one of their relievers can take over the ninth?