There have been reports that the Cubs were interested in both right-handers. I had heard that the Tigers were kicking the tires on Clippard and Storen. But Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that a lot of the trade rumors swirling around Clippard and Storen are overblown.
In other words, the hot stove features a lot of hot air. Not that this is news to anyone who is used to how baseball offseasons work.
"We haven't been fielding all that many calls on Clippard and Storen," Rizzo said. "There's a lot of lobby-talk, I call it. There's been actually no offer, no trade scenario that's official that's included Clippard or Storen. Or (Denard) Span."
There had been rumors late last week that the Nationals might consider shopping Span after agreeing to terms with Nate McLouth, who, by the way, will take his physical tomorrow. The Nats are not looking to trade Span, however, based on everything I've been told. Assuming he passes his physical and his deal becomes official, McLouth will be the Nats' fourth outfielder and will back up Span.
Danny Espinosa is another guy that's been rumored to be a trade target of a number of teams, and these rumors appear to have at least some basis. During a one-on-one video interview that will be posted here on MASNsports.com later today, Rizzo acknowledged that the Nats have received a lot of interest in Espinosa, but he maintained that the Nationals don't have much interest in dealing the 26-year-old infielder at this point.
"A lot of teams have asked about Danny Espinosa, and unless we get blown away by a trade, we feel that Danny's going to be an extremely good player for us," Rizzo said. "We're not looking to trade him or Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. But if opportunity knocks to improve our ballclub, we would think about anybody. To this point, nothing has intrigued us to the point where we would move one of those staples of the ballclub."
The Nationals are still in the process of looking to add a left-handed reliever and are pursuing some possible ways to improve their bench, but it doesn't appear that they're close to making any deals. Rizzo said that to this point, the Nats are merely putting various irons in the fire, laying the groundwork for possible deals down the road.
"A lot of information-gathering, a lot of discussions with prospective teams and prospective agents," Rizzo said. "I think that we're making progress and kind of building a foundation on who we want and what we're trying to accomplish."
Has there been progress in the search for a lefty reliever since the Nats first arrived in Orlando late Sunday night?
"I think progress for the fact that we've met with a lot of people," Rizzo said. "Progress in that sense. We've done some investigating, we've talked to a lot of people and really laid a good foundation and a groundwork to see what our future moves will be."
Rizzo also tossed out the name of one left-hander who hasn't gotten much attention this offseason - Xavier Cedeno.
Cedeno, who was claimed off waivers from the Astros in late April, punched up a 1.50 ERA in 11 appearances spanning six innings with the Nats in 2013. He held lefties to a .231/.333/.269 and had a 1.31 ERA in 39 games (34 1/3 innings) at Triple-A Syracuse, although he did allow righties to hit a lofty .391/.517/.522 at the big league level.
"Certainly Cedeno has earned the opportunity to be that left-on-left guy," Rizzo said. "He was terrific both in the minor leagues last year and in the big leagues in the short stint that he was up there. So he's earned a look and an opportunity."