Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo held a conference call with reporters this afternoon to discuss the team's trade with the Cubs for Tom Gorzelanny and the signing of Jerry Hairston Jr. Here are the highlights:
-- Gorzelanny is not a lock for the rotation, but Rizzo doesn't see him as a bullpen guy, at least not at this point. He'll compete for a spot in the rotation, Rizzo said, joining a field that includes Yunesky Maya, Chien-Ming Wang, Ross Detwiler and others. Gorzelanny has no minor league options left, and the Nationals are hoping he can help the rotation with a mid-90s fastball and a handful of complementary pitches. "There's still some upside to this guy," Rizzo said. "We see him somewhere in the rotation. We're going to have a good competition there this spring, and we're looking forward to it."
-- Wang is working out in Arizona right now, Rizzo said, and he expects the pitcher to be ready for spring training. "He's not in rehab mode," Rizzo said. "He's in preparation to get ready for spring training."
-- Rizzo acknowledged the Nationals' inability to get a No. 1 starter this offseason, but maintained the Nationals thought the Gorzelanny deal was a sound decision independent of whether they got an ace. "We attempted to get a No.1 starter," he said. "When we couldn't acquire that, our thoughts shifted to other ways to improve the roster. Whether we got a No. 1 or not, we thought this was a solid deal for us."
-- The signings, plus the addition of reliever Todd Coffey (which the team has not yet announced) put the Nationals' 40-man roster at 44 players. But Rizzo said the team is making 40-man roster moves once MLB approves trades and contracts. To that end, they released pitcher J.D. Martin today after Adam LaRoche's contract was officially approved.
-- Rizzo said Hairston will play in the infield, and also give the Nationals a right-handed bat when Nyjer Morgan needs a day off or when the Nationals face a tough lefty.
-- The Nationals' 25-man roster would appear to have little uncertainty at this point -- and we'll get into more of this in the coming days - and Rizzo said aside from a non-roster invitee or an attractive free agent, the team is likely set for the offseason. "We've had a very active, very effective offseason. We accomplished a lot of our goals," he said. "We're certainly never finished. ... I think we constructed a team that's going to be a big upgrade over 2010. It's a solid ballclub that's going to contend very positively in the National League."