Playing the waiting game (Gorzelanny signs with Brewers)

The Padres have reportedly dropped out of the Edwin Jackson sweepstakes, this apparently because they aren’t willing to give the veteran right-hander a four-year contract.

Yes, Jackson appears likely to receive a four-year deal that could end up topping $50 million.

This for a guy with a 4.40 career ERA who has been with seven organizations in 10 years.

I’ve got nothing against Jackson, who I liked a lot in my time covering him this season. But, man, this free agent market is somethin’.

As we’ve discussed, the Nationals’ 2013 roster appears pretty much set at this point, with the exception of the obvious Adam LaRoche/Michael Morse situation and the addition of another left-handed reliever to complement Zack Duke.

That won’t stop some fans from getting a little restless as they wait for the other pieces to fall into place, however. While 90 percent of the questions surrounding the Nationals’ offseason pursuits have already been answered, it’s that 10 percent that can tend to frustrate some this time of year, as the 2012 season gets smaller in the rear-view mirror and spring training inches closer.

Why can’t the Nationals just pay J.P. Howell? Why won’t they go re-sign Michael Gonzalez already? And oh, yeah, when will LaRoche’s situation be settled?

As nice as it would be for the Nats to enter the 2013 calendar year with all their offseason goals checked off, that’s normally not how this game works, and it’s certainly not how the Nationals operate.

The offseason lasts three to four months, and it’s clear that Nats general manager Mike Rizzo feels there’s no sense in hurrying things. Rizzo is generally more than willing to play the waiting game, especially if he really is interested in a player and feels that being patient will allow him to get better value down the road.

We’ve seen in the past that teams acting quickly and failing to wait for the market to play out can end up grossly overpaying. That’s not to say that all early signings are bad ones or those that happen late in the offseason are considered excellent deals, but there are usually talented players out there who have still not landed with a team by the time February rolls around.

Last year, Jackson didn’t sign with the Nationals until Feb. 2. Back in 2009, Adam Dunn didn’t agree to terms with the Nats until mid-February. Duke didn’t play a big role at the major league level last season, but he was signed during spring training, provided valuable rotation depth and ended up working a few innings in September, as well.

Heck, the Nats didn’t end up inking Gonzalez to a deal until May 8, and he didn’t make his first major league appearance with the organization until June.

Of course, the Nationals would love to have a resolution on the LaRoche/Morse situation in the next week or two. There might come a point in the offseason in which they tell LaRoche that they need to know which way he’s going to go, in order for them to go about structuring the rest of their team. They might give Howell a call at some point and tell him to either take their offer or leave it.

On the other hand, if the next month or so goes by and the roster still hasn’t been completely set, there isn’t necessarily any reason to panic.

Teams often make deals late in free agency, and the Nationals have proven that they can find players able to contribute to their major league roster in the days leading up to spring training, if not later.

Update: Tom Gorzelanny has found a new home. The left-hander has signed a two-year deal with the Brewers, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Gorzelanny was non-tendered by the Nationals after making $3 million last season. He went 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 72 innings in 2012.

It was a bit of a surprise to see Gorzelanny not get tendered a contract, but the Nats opted to sign the less-expensive Zach Duke to serve as their left-handed long-reliever for 2013.

The Nats originally acquired Gorzelanny from the Cubs in January 2011, sending minor league outfielder Michael Burgess, and pitchers Graham Hicks and A.J. Morris to Chicago. None of the three prospects sent to the Cubs have cracked the majors as of yet.

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