Rizzo on the middle infield options

With the Nationals at Ben’s Chili Bowl this afternoon as part of their Winter Caravan, I sauntered down to the U Street landmark in hopes of catching up with general manager Mike Rizzo for a couple of minutes - and in hopes of getting out of there without sucuumbing to the desire for a half smoke.

Successful on both counts. But you probably care more about the first one.

Rizzo talked briefly about the Nationals’ pursuit of a middle infielder and made it clear that former Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson is still the top choice, in spite of reports of wavering progess between the two sides. Here’s what Rizzo had to say.

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On Hudson: “There’s been no secret I like Orlando Hudson. He fits what we’re trying to do, get stronger defensively up the middle. We like him. We’ve got several other options beyond him, but obviously, he’s a guy we’d like to acquire. If it’s a fit for him and for us, I think we’ll get something done. If not, we have other options to go a different direction.”

Is he the top guy of the middle infielders on the list? “I think it’s safe to say he’d be the top guy we’d like to acquire, just because he fits the parameters of a young athletic guy that’s really good defensively.”

There’s been plenty of talk about Orlando Cabrera and Adam Kennedy, too - those are two of the “other options” Rizzo mentioned - but my hunch is some of that is the Nationals’ way of letting Hudson know they’re not afraid to go a different direction if he doesn’t back down from his contract demands (believed in some circles to be $9 million a year).

We’ll see where things go from here, but it’s clear the Nationals are still very interested in Hudson.