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Washington Nationals Rumors: Nats interested in Lance Lynn, Greg Holland...

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Another day... another rumor or two. Will Washington add to their bullpen or rotation? Reports have the Nationals interested in Lance Lynn and Greg Holland...

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Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Both Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that the Washington Nationals remain interested in free agent reliever Greg Holland.

Cafardo, in his weekly Sunday Baseball Notes column, wrote simply that, “[w]ith Wade Davis signing with Colorado, the [Chicago] Cubs are now in the picture for Holland, as are the Nationals.”

Rosenthal wrote that among super agent Scott Boras’s remaining free agent clients, “Holland appears the leading candidate to join the Nationals,” who have a long history of dealing with the agent.

Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo, talking about the needs in the bullpen last month, said he is happy with the depth after the Nats re-signed Brandon Kintzler to a 2-year/$10M deal, adding him to the mix at the back of the bullpen with Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle.

“We feel good about it,” Rizzo said. “We like the back three, and the front five, so we’ve got a lot of different looks in the bullpen. We’ve got a lot of hard throwers, we’ve got a lot of guys who can strike people out.

“We’ve got guys who have a year more experience under their belts, and we feel good about it.”

As Rosenthal mentioned today, the Nationals expressed interest in Holland last winter as they searched for a closer via free agency or trade.

Washington Post columnists Thomas Boswell and Barry Svrluga reported last season on the Nationals’ rumored interest in Holland after he signed a 1-year/$7M free agent deal with the Rockies in late January of 2017, with Boswell writing in May that there was, at one point, a deal in place to bring Holland to the Nationals, but, “[o]wnership balked at the money needed to sign [Holland] .... who was risky after elbow surgery and not due back until June.”

“[T]he baseball side of the franchise wanted Holland, risk and all,” Boswell added, “and thought a deal probably could have gotten done.”

“The Nats don’t have Greg Holland,” Svrluga wrote in a June look at the Nats’ bullpen, which was a clear weakness at the time, “because when a deal was in place, the Lerner family wouldn’t approve it.”

There are, however, Rosenthal reports, financial considerations that could affect the Nationals’ ability to spend further on free agents this winter.

As he noted, the, “... luxury tax is another potential obstacle,” after, “the Nationals paid a penalty of $1.45 million for surpassing the threshold for the first time last season.”

“Their penalty rate will increase from 20 percent to 30 percent for every dollar they spend above $197 million next season, and they would face additional penalties if they exceeded $217 million.”

While noting that, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Nationals’ 2018 payroll currently sits at $201.4M, Rosenthal adds that, “... a dip below $197 million would enable them to reset their penalty rate to 20 percent in preparation for the much-anticipated free-agent class of 2018-19, which includes their own right fielder, Bryce Harper.”

Rosenthal also cites sources who tell him the Nationals are interested in free agent starter Lance Lynn, 30, who is coming off an (11-8) campaign in St. Louis in 2017 in which he put up a 3.43 ERA, a 4.82 FIP, 3.77 BB/9, 7.39 K/9, and a .220/.312/.395 line against in 186 13 IP for the Cardinals.

Rosenthal mentions that the Nats are already over the $197M luxury-tax threshold, however, but writes that Washington’s rotation, “... lacks a proven fifth starter and needs another long-term solution for its rotation beyond right-handers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.”

Lynn, Rosenthal writes, “... would be more affordable than Boras’ top free-agent starter, right-hander Jake Arrieta,” and has a relationship with Derek Lilliquist, who left St. Louis and signed on as the Nationals’ pitching coach this winter.

Rizzo, in discussing the Nationals’ starting depth this winter, has repeatedly said he’s comfortable with the in-house options for a fifth starter behind Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark, including Erick Fedde and A.J. Cole on that list, though, as he’s often said, you can never have enough pitching.

“We’ve got Gio for this year, and so we’re four strong this year and our two young kids, and we feel good about both of those guys.”

“We have great confidence in our in-house options,” Rizzo told reporters at the Winter Meetings in early December.

“Cole threw the ball extremely well his last seven starts last year. His stuff was good, it up-ticked at the end of the season, and of course we love Fedde. He’ll be healthy and have some major league time under his belt, so we feel good about where we’re at. So what we’ll be looking for is depth, just because it’s a very long season and very few seasons you go through with five starters, so 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.” and FanRag’s Jon Heyman both predicted a four-year/$56M deal for Lynn in free agency.