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Washington Nationals Rumors & Notes: Chris Taylor a target? Andrew Stevenson avoids arbitration; Max Scherzer & New York Mets

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Catch up on the latest chatter after a busy Monday in the baseball world...

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Luis Avilán is back, huzzah!:

Luis Avilán, 32, signed on with Washington’s Nationals last January, agreeing to a minor-league contract with salary of $950K in the majors, and the lefty made the club’s big league roster out of Spring Training, but after his fourth appearance the southpaw told manager Davey Martinez that something wasn’t right.

“He came out of the game last time he pitched,” Martinez told reporters, “... and said he felt something in his elbow, unfortunately he’s got a tear in his UCL, so he’s weighing his decision on what to do.”

A few days later, Avilán decided to have Tommy John surgery, ending his 10th big league campaign just as it started.

“He knows what he’s up against,” Martinez said of the long road ahead for the reliever at that point.

“But he’s going to do everything he can. He said he wants to come back and pitch again, and good for him, so hopefully the surgery goes well for him.”

Avilán is going to get a chance to pitch for the Nationals again in 2022. Multiple reports on Monday said that the veteran is coming back to the organization on another minor league deal...

Rumor Mill: Chris Taylor?:

While acknowledging that pitching is a focus this offseason as the club reboots and tries to field a competitive team in 2022, GM Mike Rizzo said in an MLB Network appearance earlier this month that the club needed some pop in the middle of the lineup as well.

“It all starts on the mound for us, we’ll have to address that [pitching] situation, and ... we certainly could use a bat or two to surround [Juan] Soto and [Josh] Bell with, and so that’s kind of our wish list,” Rizzo explained.

“We’ve got options of going in different directions with some different skill sets, but that’s more or less what we’re locked in on at this point.”

With players signing big deals around the league, the Nationals have been relatively quiet, with the Alcides Escobar deal earlier this winter, a number of minor league signings, two players added to the 40-Man roster to protect them from selection in the Rule 5 Draft, and now the deal with Avilán. There’s also plenty of speculation about a Soto extension that will surely happen any... day... now...

But there was a mention of the Nationals on Twitter on Monday:

Turner, 31, declined the Los Angeles Dodgers’ qualifying offer, so there is a draft pick tied to the super-utility man, which Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty wrote yesterday could affect their thinking this offseason, since the Nationals don’t really want to surrender a draft pick at this point in the organizational reboot:

The Nationals are amongst a group of teams, MLBTraderumors.com noted, that would, “...forfeit their second-highest pick and and have their international signing bonus pool reduced by $500K,” if they sign a player who received and rejected a QO this winter. Is losing their second-highest pick enough to deter the Nationals (whose top pick is No. 5 overall new summer) from signing a player who has draft picks tied to them?

Max Scherzer to LOLMets:

In case you somehow missed it, Max Scherzer signed with the New York Mets yesterday, agreeing on a 3-year/$130M free agent deal with Washington’s NL East rival after he was traded to LA this past July and hit the market again for the first time since back in 2015, when he signed a 7-year/$210M free agent deal with the Nationals.

Scherzer ending up in Flushing, Queens, New York is going to be difficult for some fans in the nation’s capital to take, especially when he faces his former club during the opening series of the 2022 campaign, but is it easier to take since he was traded to the Dodgers at the 2021 trade deadline at the end of July?

This far removed from his departure, does it feel like he’s leaving the Nationals for a divisional rival?

Will it be tough to see him in blue and orange, or did seeing him in Dodger blue first make it easier to take?

Did what you see from Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz late this past season make it easier for you to deal with the loss of Scherzer and Trea Turner, who’s under team control in LA until next winter?

Stevenson Signs:

Washington had 10 arbitration-eligible players this year, but the Nationals signed one of them on Monday, inking Andrew Stevenson to a 1-year deal.

The club’s remaining arbitration-eligible players this winter?:

Josh Bell, Erick Fedde, Ryne Harper, Victor Robles, Tanner Rainey, Joe Ross, Juan Soto, Wander Suero, and Austin Voth.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals
#lettuce
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Stevenson, Harper, Voth, and Rainey joined the others on the list recently, when the cutoff for Super Two qualification this winter was set at two years and 116 days of service time.

MLB teams have until 8:00 PM ET tonight to tender contracts to remaining arbitration-eligible players. Those who are non-tendered immediately become free agents.