Washington’s Nationals announced their 7-year/$245M deal with Stephen Strasburg during the Winter Meetings earlier this month, and they made their deals with catcher Yan Gomes (2/$10M) and Howie Kendrick (1/$6.25M) official around the same time.
They’ve also added reliever Kyle Finnegan on a major league deal and Fernando Abad on a minor league deal in the last month, after adding left-handed hurler Ben Braymer to the 40-man roster to protect the pitcher from selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
They’re likely not done building, however.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, CA that he thought the work the club did while they were out West set them up for the rest of the offseason.
“I think we’ve set up a lot of different options and a lot of different avenues,” Rizzo said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Alyson Footer.
“We might not necessarily complete another deal in the next day or so,” he added, “but we feel that we’re in position to improve our roster in a rather quick manner after the Meetings.”
Rizzo talked about the roster holes he and his staff were trying to address this winter before, during, and after the Winter Meetings.
Adding to the relief corps?
“I think that it’s part of our offseason plan,” Rizzo said. “That’s one of the holes that we have to fill, and we’re certainly going to be aggressive to address the needs that we have.”
Is Daniel Hudson someone they’ve talked to as a potential solution there? Will the Nationals bring the reliever who recorded the final out of the World Series back to D.C. after acquiring the right-hander this past July?
“We’ve been in touch with his representatives, yes,” Rizzo acknowledged, but the 32-year-old reliever is reportedly looking for, “a multi-year deal and significant salary numbers,” as The Athletic’s Jim Bowden wrote this morning in his look at the remaining free agents who are on the market this winter.
Nationals’ Infield Post-Rendon:
With Anthony Rendon now an LA Angel (on a 7-year/$245M deal) and Asdrúbal Cabrera and Brian Dozier both free agents again, the Nationals have to add to their infield as well, at first, second, and third base.
Top prospect Carter Kieboom could potentially fill in at second or third base, depending on when the organization thinks he’s ready. Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick (and a left-handed hitting first baseman - Matt Adams?) could share time at first, with Kendrick, skipper Davey Martinez said at the Winter Meetings, playing a couple days a week at second base as they handle him carefully again this season. But there are still infield holes to fill however it’s worked out.
“We’re looking for an infielder and we have the flexibility to be able to have that infielder be a third baseman or a second baseman,” Rizzo explained. “So we like that flexibility, but that’s one of those things that is on our wishlist, is to get ourselves a veteran infielder to go along with one of our younger players.”
Shortly after the Winter Meetings, when Rizzo spoke at the press conference announcing the new deal with Strasburg, he said that free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson was a free agent of interest for the team.
“Yeah, I think we have an interest in Josh Donaldson,” Rizzo told reporters, as quoted on NBC Sports Washington.
“We’ve had conversations with a lot of different people and a lot of moving parts. He’s one of them.”
Donaldson remains on the open market, with the rumored asking price for the 34-year-old infielder, according to multiple reports, in the 4-year/$90-100M range at this point, with a report by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal last week saying that the Nationals and Twins are at the four-year mark already. [ed. note - “Bowden predicts a Donaldson will end up getting a 4-year/$112M deal.”]
Since that Rosenthal report on December 19th?
What other roster needs will the Nationals be looking to address as they build the roster for the defense of their World Series championship?
Starting Rotation (5th Starter):
The starting rotation? Or at least the fifth starter in the mix behind Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Aníbal Sánchez? Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, and Austin Voth are the in-house options for the Nationals, and Rizzo did say that they were comfortable going forward with the starters that are on the roster right now.
“I think we have a very good confidence with our starting rotation. We think we go deep. We’ve got seven or eight deep in the rotation, which we like. And a couple of them have options, which is important,” Rizzo said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I think we’re more than satisfied with our rotation. And with the other holes we have to fill, I think that’s less of a priority.”
Less of a priority, but given that Voth and Ross are out of options at this point, as Rizzo said, would it really surprise you if the Nationals added a veteran starter or two before the start of Spring Training?
Summing It All Up:
Is Donaldson’s decision holding up the rest of the Nationals’ moves? How long will they wait to see what the veteran infielder does? How about that relief market, especially after the all-around issues the Nats had in the bullpen in 2019? Will Rizzo and Davey Martinez get signed beyond 2020 before the new seasons begins? Is there a Jeremy Hellickson-type starter out there that will sign on to battle for the 5th spot in the rotation this Spring? Could Hellickson be the Hellickson-type starter? He is still out there... What other holes would like to see the Nationals address before pitchers and catchers report?