Rizzo: Gonzalez’s situation doesn’t intensify search for a starter

VIERA, Fla. - We spoke to Gio Gonzalez yesterday about his involvement with Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to major league players.

Today, we talked to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo about Gonzalez and his future.

Because of Major League Baseball’s ongoing investigation into Biogenesis and Tony Bosch, who ran the clinic, Rizzo couldn’t say too much on Gonzalez and the Nats’ plans for their star lefty. Rizzo did say, however, that the Nats are planning on having Gonzalez available for the entirety of the 2013 season.

“I expect to put his name in the lineup every fifth day,” Rizzo said simply.

Given the uncertainty surrounding Gonzalez, who could be potentially be suspended for 50 games by MLB if he’s found to have purchased or used PEDs, there have been rumors that the Nationals could become a player for free agent starter Kyle Lohse or look to acquire another big-name arm.

Rizzo seemed to indicate, however, that despite Gonzalez’s link to Biogenesis, the Nats aren’t out there searching for another starter.

“It did not intensify anything for us,” Rizzo said. “We’re always looking. We always like depth. But it did not intensify with that.”

The Nationals appear to be pretty set as far as their 25-man roster is concerned, with five proven starters, a deep bullpen and a talented group of position players already on board. They seem to have very few holes as is, which is why it would likely take a Gonzalez suspension or a major injury to force Rizzo to pull the trigger on any major move.

“If you’re talking about a big-time trade or a big-time free agent acquisition, I would think that would have to be something that was set off by something that happens here in camp,” Rizzo said. “But we’re always looking to get ourselves better and deeper, and if there’s something to be done that makes sense for us, we’ll certainly be doing it.”

Rizzo reiterated the message that we heard from Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday: The Nationals and Zimmermann are still a little ways apart in negotiations for a contract for the 2013 season.

Zimmermann, who is arbitration eligible for the first time in his career, has asked for $5.8 million for this season, while the Nats have countered at $4.6 million.

“We’re still in discussions with him,” Rizzo said. “We’re still talking with him.”

Rizzo added that the Nationals have not yet started talks with Ian Desmond’s agent about a possible long-term extension, but that it’s something that the team would consider, even if negotiations were not to start until the regular season was already under way.

“I’m open-minded with that, yes,” Rizzo said.

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