LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The end is in sight.
The sunlight shining into the lobby of the Swan and Dolphin Resort has started to dissipate as we get to the nighttime hours of the last full day of the Winter Meetings.
Soon enough, we’ll be on our way back to the 30-degree temperatures many of you are experiencing, although if that means I get to sleep in my own bed, eat dinner before 10 p.m. and not have to chase down rumors all day, I’ll be perfectly fine with it.
Within the last two weeks, the Nationals have traded for right-hander Doug Fister and left-handed Jerry Blevins and agreed to terms with outfielder Nate McLouth on a two-year deal. In acquiring those three guys, general manager Mike Rizzo has checked the three main boxes off his to-do list - get a quality starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever and a versatile left-handed-hitting outfielder.
So what’s left for the Nats to accomplish? What else needs to be done before pitchers and catchers report to Viera, Fla.?
“I wouldn’t say we have to do X before we leave the Winter Meetings, certainly, (or) before we get to spring training,” Rizzo said. “But we’re going to be active and aggressive and see if there’s something that comes to us that can improve our roster.”
Now that the Nats have acquired Blevins, they feel that they have the bullpen pieces that they need. Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Blevins and Craig Stammen are all but locked into the ‘pen (barring a trade, of course), and left-handers Xavier Cedeno and Ross Detwiler and righties Ross Ohlendorf, Tanner Roark, Ryan Mattheus, Erik Davis and Christian Garcia are all in the mix for the final two relief roles.
Rizzo was asked if he feels the Nats are set with their relief options at this point.
“I think we’re very happy with the group we have,” he said. “That said ...”
We all know what the “that said” is. Rizzo and the Nationals are always looking for ways to improve their roster, and if they find a way between now and the start of spring training, they’ll do it.
I’m not sure how many teams can look at their roster on Dec. 11 and feel like they would be completely comfortable with the group they have if spring training was to start tomorrow.
The Nationals probably are pretty close to that.
They’ll continue to monitor the market for bench players and possibly add a corner infielder that can back up Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. They’ll search for a viable backup catcher who could come cheap. They’ll see if there’s a veteran middle infielder that fits on a minor league deal or low-value major league contract that can compete with Danny Espinosa for the utility infielder job. They’ll field any calls that come for possible trades (a lot of which have involved Espinosa to this point), and there’s a chance something happens there.
Otherwise, the Nats might be fairly set, which Rizzo acknowledges is a good feeling.
“Yeah, we think that we’ve kind of accomplished what we set out (to do) after the season ended in ‘13,” Rizzo said. “We had an offseason plan in place and we’ve accomplished a lot of the things that we set out to. So we feel good about that.”