What’s on tap for today and a free agent to watch

Remember when the Nationals shipped David DeJesus to the Rays in August just four days after they had acquired the veteran outfielder from the Cubs, and Nats general manager Mike Rizzo said that he’d be open to reuniting with DeJesus this offseason should he hit the free agent market?

Yeah, that won’t be happening.

The Rays have reportedly picked up DeJesus’ $6.5 million option for 2014 and are working on a new two-year deal, according to the Tampa Bay Times, keeping the friendly, speedy, left-handed-hitting outfielder in St. Petersburg.

Had the Rays instead taken a $1.5 million buyout on DeJesus’ option, making him a free agent, the Nats could have looked to bolster their bench by signing the 33-year-old, asking him to fill their Roger Bernadina-type role next season. Instead, they could choose to sign someone like Juan Pierre, who is a free agent, or maybe turn that role over to Corey Brown, Jeff Kobernus or Eury Perez.

Today is the deadline for teams to add players on the 60-day disabled list back to their 40-man rosters, meaning the Nats will need to make a move with both left-hander Ross Detwiler and right-hander Christian Garcia.

The Nats currently have 38 guys on their 40-man roster, so they have room to add both Detwiler and Garcia without needing to clear any spots. Detwiler is a no-brainer; he’ll be put back on the 40-man and is expected to be healthy and ready for spring training after missing much of the 2013 season with a back injury. Garcia is less of a certainty after forearm and hamstring injuries made his 2013 campaign a wash, but given the ability he showed down the stretch in 2012, the Nats will likely keep him on the 40-man.

Today is also the last day for teams to tender qualifying offers to their free agents.

The Nationals have just two free agents this offseason - Chad Tracy and Dan Haren. There’s no chance Tracy is receiving a qualifying offer. There’s only the smallest of chances that Haren is extended the one-year, $14.1 million contract that accompanies the qualifying offer, and that would only come to fruition if the Nats are convinced that Haren will decline the offer. In such a case, the Nats would be in line for a compensatory draft pick when Haren is signed by a new team.

On another note, MLBTradeRumors.com has compiled its list of the top 50 free agents this offseason, and along with it, has projected where each player will end up signing.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the projections have the Nats signing just one of those 50 players (the Nats have few holes to fill, after all), and perhaps not surprisingly, it’s a starting pitcher.

MLBTradeRumors has the Nats signing veteran right-hander Matt Garza, ranked as their seventh-best free agent this offseason, and sees Garza landing a four-year deal in excess of $60 million.

The Nats, as you might remember, have been linked to Garza a couple of times before. There were reports that the Nats tried to land Garza before the 2011 season before the Rays ended up trading him to the Cubs, and then Mike Rizzo and company were again tied to Garza this summer, when they reportedly kicked the tires on the righty before the non-waiver trade deadline.

The 29-year-old Garza was then traded to the Rangers, with whom he went 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts. On the season, Garza went 10-6 with a 3.82 ERA, 136 strikeouts and 42 walks in 155 1/3 innings, numbers that fit in right around his career averages.

Garza is a hard-thrower who has had success on the playoff stage (he’s posted a 3.48 ERA in 31 postseason innings) and is not eligible for a qualifying offer because he was traded midseason, meaning the Nats wouldn’t need to worry about forfeiting a draft pick if they’re considering signing him. But he has battled injuries over the last couple of seasons, with a stress fracture in his right elbow costing him the last two-plus months of the regular season in 2012 and a lat strain knocking him out for the first seven weeks of the 2013 campaign.

The Nats like what Garza brings to the table. They want to solidify the back of their rotation, either through a free agent acquisition, a trade or the elevation of one of their in-house options.

But would they give four years and $60-plus million to a guy that has averaged 129 innings the last two years when their payroll is already moving upwards and a handful of their young players will be needing extensions in the next couple years?

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