Will Howie Kendrick be the last significant addition to the Washington Nationals’ roster this winter? Kendrick signed what is reportedly a 2-year/$7M deal on Monday, coming back to the nation’s capital after he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies before the trade deadline last July. With another addition to the Nationals’ bench, along with veteran first baseman/outfielder Matt Adams, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office in D.C. might be done building the roster for 2018.
Will they add a veteran backup to share time with Matt Wieters, given the stated goal of using the 31-year-old catcher less than they did last season in the hope that it will increase his production on the offensive end. Or will they use Pedro Severino, who has been referred to as the “catcher of the future” by Rizzo before, as the backup, giving him a shot to take the next step and claim that role?
There are, of course, rumors of interest in some of the relievers remaining on the free agent market and rumors of the Nationals potentially adding another arm to the mix, whether it’s a fifth starter-type or a higher-end pitcher who’d push some of the others in the rotation behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg back.
About those rumors...
Ken Rosenthal, at The Athletic (subscription required), wrote over the weekend that his major league sources were telling him that rumors of interest in free agent closer Greg Holland on the Nationals’ part might not be as serious as some thought, in spite of the fact that Holland, like other clients of the super agent Scott Boras, has been linked to Washington again this winter.
“The Nats’ front office considers Holland too risky on a multi-year deal,” Rosenthal wrote, “... and is likely to wait out the market for a lesser right-handed reliever.”
Holland, who was coming off Tommy John surgery last winter, was reportedly a target for the Nationals’ front office, before he signed on in Colorado, with multiple reports saying the baseball side of the front office in D.C. wanted to sign him while the Nats’ ownership balked.
As for the starting market, Rosenthal, who previously joked that he wouldn’t believe Jake Arrieta, another Boras client, was going to sign anywhere other than with the Nationals until he put on a different jersey, wrote this weekend that, “... at this moment,” Washington is, “... not active in the starting-pitching market.”
“But as we’ve seen before,” Rosenthal added, “their off-season plans—depending upon the whims of ownership—are subject to change.”
USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale, who was first with the news of the Nats and Kendrick reaching a deal, wrote in his story on the signing on Monday afternoon the addition, “... could be the Nationals’ last major free-agent signing unless one of the marquee starting pitchers’ asking price drops.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked earlier this winter, when asked about potential relief or rotation upgrades, downplayed the idea that Washington might be big players in the high-end market, telling reporters at the Winter Meetings in early December that the more likely scenario was that the Nats would add depth where needed.
“We want to add to our depth not only in the rotation but in the bullpen, and just kind of do our stuff along the periphery of the roster,” Rizzo explained.
They’ve bolstered the relief corps by bringing Brandon Kintzler back to work the late innings with Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, added to the bench with Matt Adams and now Kendrick, and signed some veteran depth like former Nationals’ draft pick Tommy Milone and Edwin Jackson.
Will Rizzo find a starter or reliever that comes to Washington on the right deal at some point? Will he add a veteran catcher? Do you expect any big moves from the Nationals before the start of Spring Training next month?