Spinning a Webb deal

Matt Chico has been designated for assignment by the Nationals, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Chico has been DFA’ed before; indeed, he may yet be re-signed to a minor league deal, as he’s done before. Not a great Christmas present, for sure, but not the end of the world either.

I can’t say this move necessarily means that another free agent signing is imminent, but you never know. Today’s buzz centers around pitcher Brandon Webb. Rumors earlier this week had him headed to either the Rangers or Cubs. Today, apparently, the Cubs are out of it and the Nats are back in.

Webb’s history with Mike Rizzo may yet be a factor, maybe not. One thing is certain: the Nats don’t want to be this year’s Oakland A’s. Last January the A’s signed free agent Ben Sheets to a one-year, $10 million deal, after Sheets had spent all of 2009 on the sidelines following elbow surgery. Sheets responded with a 4-9 record, 4.53 ERA in 20 starts. He clearly wasn’t the same pitcher he’d been for the Brewers, and was shut down for the season in late July with another elbow injury.

Webb has also had some elbow issues in his career, but his most recent injury was right shoulder bursitis. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since early April of 2009. His agent, however, indicated that the “starting point” for a Webb contract would be Sheets’ deal with the A’s.

Really? Unless he said it to screen out the riff-raff, it didn’t seem like a very smart negotiating ploy. If Sheets had managed to complete the season in the Oakland rotation, maybe it would make some sense, but that just didn’t happen.

Webb’s from Ashland, KY, which is fairly close to West Virginia, so if geography counts for anything, maybe that’s a notch on the Nats’ side of the ledger. But, if he’s only looking for someone to fund his retirement account, maybe he’d be better of in someone else’s uniform.