DALLAS - Looks like the Nationals, like most of baseball, are balking at the notion of paying left-hander C.J. Wilson north of $100 million to solidify their rotation. A source at the Winter Meetings told me tonight that the Nats are moving their focus to the other two top free agent pitchers, lefty Mark Buehrle and right-hander Roy Oswalt.
This is typical of baseball’s biggest offseason gathering: A free agent shoots for the moon, teams bristle at his asking price and the clubs move on to other targets. That’s what happens when you float terms like six years for $120 million. And, as I wrote Saturday, the Nationals have interest in all three of the top free agent pitchers.
This isn’t to say that the Nationals’ talks with Wilson are dead; they won’t be until Wilson signs somewhere else on the dotted line. But for now, general manager Mike Rizzo seems to be sending a message: Lower your asking price to something that better fits our budget or we’ll move in a different direction.
It’s not surprising that the Nationals are viewed as a team with money to burn. By handing out a seven-year, $126 million contract to Jayson Werth at last year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, the Nats have positioned themselves as a willing spender, which makes Wilson’s asking price - viewed by many as outlandish - merely a starting point for negotiations.