Nationals miss out on Justin Duchscherer

The Nationals were in the running yesterday to add another pitcher to their already-crowded race for a rotation spot, but this morning, they’re still heading to spring training with what they had. They missed out on a chance to sign former Athletics pitcher Justin Duchscherer when he signed with the Orioles late last night.

Duchscherer’s choice reportedly came down to the Nationals and Orioles, and he signed a deal with Baltimore that could pay him up to $4.5 million. Roch Kubatko has more here.

I’m not too surprised Duchscherer picked the Orioles over the Nationals; put simply, he’ll have a better chance to start in Baltimore than he would have in Washington. The Nationals have been into the low-risk, high-reward pitching market for almost a year now, since they signed Chien-Ming Wang to an incentive-laden deal not unlike the one Duchscherer got. They’re also hoping Tom Gorzelanny will factor into their rotation mix this spring, and Yunesky Maya could get a shot, as well. The Orioles, on the other hand, were counting on prospects like Zach Britton and Chris Tillman to get the final spot in their rotation. Those players, who still have options, are easier to move out of the way.

The only young pitchers the Nationals will have in their rotation are Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan; the rest of the pitchers are either veteran innings-eaters or injury recovery cases. In other words, there are more pitchers like Duchscherer in Washington than there would have been in Baltimore, which means the likelihood of him cracking the Orioles’ rotation is marginally higher than his chances of making the Nationals’ rotation.

If the Nationals are still looking to add a veteran pitcher, Kevin Millwood and Freddy Garcia are still on the market. But it seems just as likely that they’d head into the spring with what they have.