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A closer look at Zobrist

There is usually minimal action in between Christmas and New Year’s when it comes to the baseball hot stove. Most, if not all, teams close their offices during this time, allowing their employees to be with their families and take some rare vacation time. That doesn’t really apply to general managers and their top lieutenants, however, and agents don’t typically take much of a break

Looking three months into the future (Cabrera agrees to deal with Rays, per report)

A little over three months from now (three months and a week, to be exact), the Nationals will open their 2015 regular season at home against the Mets. It’ll be a 4:05 p.m. contest on a Monday afternoon. Bolt work a couple of hours early and bundle up. There is still a good bit to be decided before then when it comes to the construction

Ramos looking for a DL-free 2015 campaign

I’m not going to lie - the pictures of Nationals Park with a hockey rink smack dab in the middle of the field both look very bizarre and also have me very excited for the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. I won’t be attending the game between the Capitals and Blackhawks, largely because I plan on enjoying the afternoon from the warmth and

What can be expected of McLouth in 2015?

Last year right around this time, the Nationals were penciling in the newly signed Nate McLouth as their fourth outfielder, confident that he would be able to play all three outfield positions at a high level and give Jayson Werth, Denard Span and Bryce Harper somewhat regular days off in order to keep those three fresh. The Nats inked McLouth to a two-year, $10.75 million

A bit more on the Uggla signing

I wasn’t necessarily surprised at the fan reaction on Twitter and in the comments section of this blog yesterday after the Nationals signed Dan Uggla to a minor league deal. Nats fans have seen quite a bit of Uggla over the last handful of years while he was with the Braves. And most of it hasn’t been great. They saw him go from a Silver

Nats sign Dan Uggla to minor league deal (updated with more signings)

The Nationals have signed second baseman Dan Uggla to a minor league deal, the team announced, reuniting the veteran infielder with Mike Rizzo, who as the Diamondbacks’ scouting director drafted Uggla in 2001. Uggla’s minor league deal includes an invitation to big league spring training, where he will likely compete for the Nats’ starting second base job. Uggla has big power potential, and displayed it

Recapping what I missed

Well, hello again, everyone. I’m back after a nice two-week trip out of the country, and while I missed out on much of the holiday season while I was away, I hope all of you enjoyed some quality time with your families and got some good food in ya. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yesterday was merry and joyous. If you don’t, I hope

Who will stay and who will go?

In a previous life, I was a store Santa. For six years, beginning in college and lasting into my first newspaper job, I donned the red suit and white beard (and used professional makeup to whiten my eyebrows, mustache and facial hair), first for Montgomery Ward and later as a jolly ol’ elf for hire at office functions, private parties and even delivered poinsettias for

Why those minor league deals are important

There’s been some spirited debate in NatsTown over the past couple of days sparked by the announcement that the Nationals had signed Heath Bell to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training. People are wondering why the Nats would need to invest time, money and innings on a guy on the downside of his career, a pitcher obviously past his

Is Cole ready to contribute? (updated with promotion, signing notes)

If now-departed outfielder Steven Souza Jr. was the most popular name brought up by other teams at the Winter Meetings in San Diego earlier this month, right-handed pitching prospect A.J. Cole might have been a close second. One scout told me in the lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt that his team had been trying to pry Cole away from the Nationals since general manager

Heath Bell signs minor league deal with Nationals

Well, it wouldn’t be spring training without at least one reclamation project, right? Former Padres All-Star closer Heath Bell announced in a self-penned post on The Players’ Tribune this afternoon that he had signed a minor league deal with the Nationals. The contract includes an invitation to major league spring training, so Bell will be suiting up in Viera, Fla., when pitchers and catchers report

A few thoughts on Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang (updated)

Later today, we’ll learn the name of the major league club that won the opportuity to negotiate exclusively with Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang. So far, 18 teams have said they weren’t engaged in the bidding through the posting system. But one club reportedly has paid $5,002,015 for the right to hash out a deal with Kang, a 27-year-old slugger who blasted 40 home runs and

With Souza gone, is Taylor next man up? (plus minor league signing)

This week’s trade that sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Rays as part of a three-team deal creates a possible vacancy on the Nationals bench. If Souza was to have competed for a backup role as the fifth outfielder, part-time first baseman and pinch-hitter in spring training, as manager Matt Williams said at NatsFest, which player benefits most from his departure? For at least

Looking back on the Gio Gonzalez trade

There’s a tendency for fans to judge every trade made on its face value in the moments immediately after the deal is consummated and announced. This can be tricky, since raw emotion, rather than careful consideration, takes over. It’s often better - and more useful - to judge a trade in three ways: immediate impact, short-term results and long-term gains or losses. Yes, it’s natural

Rizzo on the trade for Ross and the player to be named

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo just finished a conference call with the local media to make official what we’ve known for the past couple of days: The Nationals have dealt outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and minor league left-hander Travis Ott to the Padres for right-handed pitching prospect Joe Ross and a player to be named. Souza and Ott are then going from the Padres to

What happens with Trea Turner? (deal is done)

Most of baseball thinks Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made another lopsided deal Wednesday, when he agreed to send outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Rays, Washington’s contribution to a three-team, 11-player blockbuster that shipped 2013 American League Rookie of the Year Wil Meyers from Tampa Bay to the Padres. While I’m happy to recap the swap, you might want to go grab a snack

By one metric, Ramos and Lobaton a formidable tandem behind the plate

Not so long ago, general managers putting together their rosters didn’t fret much over catchers. You had your starter, who hopefully could hit a little and was at least passable defensively. And you had a backup, whose skill set was the opposite of your starter. If the starting backstop was a good defender, you looked for a backup with a decent bat; if your starting

Report: Souza dealt to Tampa Bay in three-team trade

That memory of Steven Souza Jr.’s diving catch in left-center to seal Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the last day of the regular season may have to last you a while. It appears Souza is on his way out of D.C. in a mutliple-player, three-team trade that also involves the Padres and Rays. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that a framework is in place that Continue reading ....

Williams on his first year at the helm, what’s ahead for 2015

Since he was named Nationals manager on Oct. 31, 2013, the recently completed Winter Meetings marked a milestone in Matt Williams’ tenure at the helm: He’s been through a full annual cycle of life as a major league skipper. It’s not as easy as writing down names on a lineup card every day during the season or fulfilling the role of engaging tour guide, as

More on Zimmerman’s transition to first (pitchers, catchers report Feb. 19)

Quantifying Adam LaRoche’s importance to the Nationals over his four-year stint isn’t difficult. Yes, there was the left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup that supplied necessary power. But LaRoche’s prowess with the leather was something that came up over and over again at NatsFest as his now ex-teammates lamented his departure as a free agent. LaRoche was the kind of steady but stellar

Harper and Nats settle, avoid grievance hearing (updated with terms)

The Nationals and outfielder Bryce Harper have reached a settlement on his 2015 salary and avoided a potentially contentious grievance hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday in New York. The two sides appeared headed for the grievance hearing, which Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo likened to an arbitration hearing, where teams take great pains to point out all of a player’s shortcomings. But things took

Though role unclear, Treinen will stretch out as starter in camp

The Nationals rotation is deep enough that left-hander Ross Detwiler, a 10-game winner in 2012 couldn’t crack it in spring training and was traded to the Rangers earlier this week after struggling to adapt to a bullpen role. The Nationals are already salivating over the future arrival of stud pitcher Lucas Giolito, a 20-year-old righty who hasn’t pitched above low Single-A and is rated baseball’s

Ready to close, Storen grateful for vote of confidence

Though Drew Storen struggled in his two postseasons, there won’t be any closer controversy as the Nationals enter spring training. At the Winter Meetings in San Diego, general manager Mike Rizzo said that the right-hander would handle the ninth inning for the Nats in 2015. “Any guy throwing late in games wants to be closer, but think more important to have that vote of confidence

Closer role an option for Clippard

There was a lot of debate in 2014 about who should assume the closer role for the Nationals. Rafael Soriano was brought in to shut the door in the ninth before 2012, but seven blown saves and myriad other close calls in 2014 left fans with little confidence, and even fewer fingernails, as the final three outs seemed to constantly be a struggle to obtain.

Source: Blue Jays have not contacted Rizzo about president/CEO job

Nothing like a hot rumor to spice up NatsFest, though this one had nothing to do with a big trade or free agent signing. ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported Saturday afternoon that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo, who they’d like to hire as their new president/CEO when Paul Beeston relinquishes those roles after the

Zimmermann and Fister on their futures in Washington

Jordan Zimmermann knows what it will take to keep him in a Nationals uniform, and he’s more than willing to let the process surrounding a long-term contract extension take its course. “If it’s fair value, like I’ve said all along, I’d gladly sign,” Zimmermann said. “At the end of the day, it’s got to be something that’s fair. If it’s not, then I’ll be moving

Frandsen on second base: “If opportunity arises, I’m going to take it”

Let’s not mince words. The Nationals are looking for an everyday second baseman. Kevin Frandsen wants the gig. “I mean, doesn’t everyone?” Frandsen told reporters Saturday at NatsFest. “Do you want to write every day? You want to write every day. That’s part of your job. I want to play every day. But is that like me saying, ‘I demand?’ No, it’s the mentality you

Desmond: “I want to be here and play here”

In a week where his name cropped up in trade rumors at the Winter Meetings, shortstop Ian Desmond left little doubt that he’d like to remain with the Nationals. Speaking during his media availability at NatsFest on Saturday, Desmond said he understood why his name was bandied about at the Winter Meetings, once as part of a blockbuster deal that would have sent him to

Roark aiming to solidify role as starter

For young pitchers trying to make it into a team’s starting rotation, there are two goals: make the rotation and stay in it. Last year, Tanner Roark accomplished the first goal. Now comes the second one. “Somebody can always come in and prove themselves and do better than me,” Roark said. “That’s what I’ve got to prove to myself, prove each year that I can

Rendon’s second thoughts

Anthony Rendon didn’t torment himself watching the rest of the postseason play out after the Nationals were eliminated in the National League Division Series. He’s played some golf and immersed himself in basketball season, tuning in on his hometown Houston Rockets via DirecTV to take some of the sting away from the Nats’ disappointing first-round ouster. “I guess (seeing the Giants win) made it a

Rizzo on Harper grievance and absence, Werth and Detwiler deal

Bryce Harper’s upcoming grievance hearing to determine whether he can opt out of his contract and into salary arbitration will be held Tuesday in New York. But the potentially contentious faceoff has already had an effect on Harper and the Nationals. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the star outfielder opted not to attend NatsFest, though he had previously been listed by the team among

Zimmerman has seen changes, is ready for another

Ryan Zimmerman has heard the whispers about the Nationals dealing one of their key players who will reach free agency after the 2015 season. He’s watched this season as first baseman Adam LaRoche, cast aside to accommodate the planned move of Zimmerman to first base, signed as a free agent with the White Sox. He understands baseball’s economics and realizes the window for the Nationals

Welcome to NatsFest!

Well, the day that many Nationals fans have been waiting for since the final pitch of the 2014 season has finally arrived. It’s time for NatsFest. What, you thought I meant the day that pitchers and catchers report to Space Coast Stadium? Those of you attending today’s winter baseball carnival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center will want to make sure to stop by

Thoughts on the Nats possibly sending McLouth up Route 295

Just because the Winter Meetings are over doesn’t mean we’re not still stoking the hot stove. In fact, the period from now until Christmas (and maybe New Year’s Day) is usually pretty active. For whatever reason, free agents seem to like knowing where they’re going to be playing next season, what city they have to report to for spring training, etc. Those moves have a

What went wrong with Detwiler? (trade officially announced)

As much as I enjoy the Winter Meetings, it’s always good to be back home. As I was settling into my aisle seat on Southwest Flight 144 out of San Diego yesterday afternoon, news broke that the Nationals had finally pulled off a trade. Dealing left-hander Ross Detwiler was not unexpected. Because he throws from the port side, he was attractive to plenty of teams.

Reports: Nats deal Detwiler to Rangers (update)

Ross Detwiler lost his spot in the Nationals rotation before last season and now he’s moving on. The Nats have traded the 28-year-old left-hander to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. In return for Detwiler, Washington will reportedly receive an infielder and a reliever. Detwiler was selected by the Nats in the first round of the 2007 draft

Nats leave Winter Meetings with major league, farm rosters intact

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals got through the major league phase of this morning’s Rule 5 draft without losing any players, nor did they make a selection with the 29th pick in the first round. They survived five rounds - yes, you read that right, five rounds - in the Triple-A phase of the draft without losing anyone and didn’t add any players. And when

Skole, Martin, Vettleson could be of interest to teams in Rule 5 draft

SAN DIEGO - The Rule 5 draft takes place at 9 a.m. Pacific time (noon Eastern time) at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, and is the final official activity of this year’s Winter Meetings. Unlike in past years, the Nationals won’t be able to make a pick among players not included on teams’ 40-man rosters. To do so, the Nats would have to have an opening

Jim Callis on Giolito, Taylor, Fedde and a look at Nats’ minor league system

SAN DIEGO - We saw quite a few changes in the National League East yesterday. Jimmy Rollins - to this point a career-long Phillie - was shipped out to Los Angeles and will now play shortstop for the Dodgers. Dee Gordon and former National Dan Haren were traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins, although Haren is now taking time to decide whether he’d rather

Nats generating lots of lobby buzz

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals have yet to make a move at the Winter Meetings, and based on what I’m hearing, nothing big is imminent at this point. But according to multiple sources, the Nats have been incredibly active here despite the lack of a completed deal, and they are plenty willing to engage in trade discussions involving some of their big-name players. Depending on

Rizzo quashes Scherzer speculation, says he’s met with Zimmermann’s reps

SAN DIEGO - The notion of free agent Max Scherzer reuniting with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, the man who drafted him in Arizona, was just too tantalizing a storyline to ignore at baseball’s Winter Meetings. And then, on the day that Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, held court for reporters pressed five and six deep for the better part of an hour, Rizzo went and

Rizzo on Werth, Harper positional moves (plus update on grievance hearing)

SAN DIEGO - Probably the biggest Nationals-related news that’s come out at the Winter Meetings involves two players who are already on the roster. General manager Mike Rizzo today expanded on comments made by Matt Williams yesterday, saying that the Nationals plan to move Jayson Werth to left field next season, with Bryce Harper becoming their right fielder. Williams indicated that Werth could continue to

With relief market active, Nats fielding inquiries on bullpen arms

SAN DIEGO - The relief dominoes are falling, and that makes it more possible that the Nationals will make a deal involving one of their bullpen arms. Overnight, the Astros agreed to terms with a pair of free agent right-handers, Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. Neshek, the low sidearmer who pitched last season for the Cardinals, gets a two-year, $12.5 million deal with an option

How the Lester deal could impact the Nats

SAN DIEGO - Day Two of the Winter Meetings finished with a flourish, as Jon Lester and the Cubs agreed to terms on a six-year, $155 million contract, a deal that could quickly shift the offseason landscape and lead to increased action during our remaining time in San Diego. Lester chose the Cubs over the Red Sox and Giants, and depending on who you believe,

Souza’s stock rising in Williams’ eyes

SAN DIEGO - Nationals manager Matt Williams likes to plan things out, down to the smallest detail. From lineup combinations to how every minute in spring training drills will be accounted for, Williams has a reputation as a taskmaster who doesn’t relish wasting time or energy. So a proclamation by the manager at the Winter Meetings that Steven Souza Jr. has worked his way into

Williams: Harper could play right with Werth shifting to left

SAN DIEGO - Last spring, the Nationals intended to give third baseman Ryan Zimmerman some reps at first base, the first steps in preparation for an eventual positional switch. Manager Matt Williams devised some interesting wordplay to cover the order in which Zimmerman, dealing with right shoulder soreness that had limited his availability two weeks before camp broke, would tackle those assignments. “I want him

Updates on Zimmermann, Desmond and Clippard (with video)

SAN DIEGO - Mike Rizzo had “a lot of dialogue with a lot of teams” during Day Two of the Winter Meetings, but the Nationals general manager said that no deals are imminent at this point. He has not met with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann’s representatives as of yet during the Winter Meetings, but plans to before the week is up. “Zim’s part of the furniture

Quick hits from Williams’ session with reporters (with video)

SAN DIEGO - Nationals manager Matt Williams just met with local reporters for nearly a half-hour, and while I don’t have the time to pass along a full notebook from his session, here are some quick hits before I run off to take part in Mike Rizzo’s nightly meeting with the media. * Williams understands the situation that Rizzo is in this winter when it

Rounding up some rumors (with charity auction notes)

SAN DIEGO - We’re aware of the free agent infield targets that the Nationals might be looking at this offseason. Asdrubal Cabrera is an option, and general manager Mike Rizzo said last night that he’s kept in touch with veteran’s agent thus far this winter. Jed Lowrie is another possibility, although a few teams are reportedly considering him as a potential fit at third base

Interpreting Rizzo’s comments on bolstering Nats’ bench options (with minor league note)

SAN DIEGO - The dance between reporters seeking information and team executives reluctant to part with it is the crux of many conversations at the Winter Meetings. Whether it’s an informal chat in the hotel bar or the packed lobby, or every afternoon’s formal interview session, the tango begins anew with every conversation. We want information. They want us to have only the information they

Nationals trying to assess trade value of their 2015 free agents (with note)

SAN DIEGO - When holding trade talks involving major league players, there’s more to consider than just the names, ages and the past on-field histories of the guys involved. The contracts play a major part in the process, as well. Teams want talented players, but they want talented players who are under team control for multiple years at a reasonable price. That’s why Tanner Roark,

Notes on Espinosa’s switch-hitting, Nats’ search for infielder

SAN DIEGO - Infielder Danny Espinosa said last season that he’s toying with the idea of ditching switch-hitting and batting exclusively from the right side of the plate. While Espinosa seems willing to make the switch, the Nationals aren’t saying if that’s the plan going into spring training. It might not be until Grapefruit League games begin that their plans for Espinosa become evident. Meeting

Mike Rizzo: “We’ll continue to be aggressive and bold” (with video)

SAN DIEGO - Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is approaching this offseason with a totally open mind. With a load of talented players under contract for the 2015 season, the Nationals could be World Series contenders even if they don’t add much the rest of this winter. They also could make a splash, adding a big-name infielder or trading one of the guys in their

Considering the factors on Nats’ negotiations with starters

SAN DIEGO - Day One of the Winter Meetings is under way (what exactly was I doing standing around in the lobby most of the day yesterday, if this thing didn’t start until today?), and all is pretty quiet at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. They just now announced that the Hall of Fame Golden Era Committee did not vote to induct any members to the

How the Winter Meetings are different for the Nationals

SAN DIEGO - The lobby at the Manchester Grand Hyatt is teeming with executives and media members. Day One of baseball’s Winter Meetings is under way, even if many of the participants are a little bleary-eyed from a day of cross-country travel and the interruptions of their usual sleep patterns. Some years, lots of action takes place at the Winter Meetings. Some years, eh, not

Rangers’ Odor may be of interest to Nationals

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals are in need of a second baseman, and you can expect them to be linked to just about every available player at the position during the Winter Meetings. That’s how baseball’s mid-winter gathering works: need plus availability equals instant rumor. So you’re going to hear a lot over the next few days about guys who Nats general manager Mike Rizzo

Nats taking another shot at extension with Zimmermann

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals have engaged Jordan Zimmermann and his representatives in the past about a possible contract extension that would keep the right-hander in D.C. long-term. These previous talks haven’t progressed too far. But with Zimmermann now set to enter his final year of team control, a source confirms that the Nationals are set to take another crack at a long-term deal with

Quick news and notes from San Diego

SAN DIEGO - We’re all set up here at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, right on the water and just a short walk away from Petco Park, home of the Padres. The Winter Meetings don’t technically begin until tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped groups of team employees and reporters from congregating in the lobby as everyone catches up and gets set to

Could this be the end of the Clippard era in D.C.?

SAN DIEGO - We’ve arrived at San Diego International Airport and are headed to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, headquarters for baseball’s Winter Meetings. Get ready for four days of rumors and trade talk, free agent posturing and signings, and more diamond banter than you can shake a Louisville Slugger at. Since this winter has already seen its share of trades, and since the Winter Meetings

We’re off for San Diego

I’m just about off for the airport, ready to head out to San Diego for four days of Winter Meetings coverage. My cell phone battery and the soles of my shoes will be put to the test this week, as they are every Winter Meetings. Keeping up with all the rumors, speculation and legitimate news can be tough during this annual event, which includes long

Continued confusion over Tigers’ side of Fister trade

Immediately after the Doug Fister trade was completed last winter, there were many people who doubted the return that Detroit got from the Nationals for a guy viewed by many as one of the more underrated right-handers in baseball. But Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski steadfastly said that he liked the three players that his side got in the trade - infielder Steve Lombardozzi, left-handed

With Winter Meetings approaching, Nats won’t force moves

Two days from now, I’ll be hopping a plane to San Diego, ready for a few days of chaos at the hub of the baseball world - the annual Winter Meetings. Team executives, agents, scouts, trainers, anyone involved in the inner workings of Major League Baseball will be there, making this the most anticipated four days in the offseason. TV networks will have massive sets

A trend in the free agent market

Consider me a bit confused by the Braves’ offseason strategy to this point. Atlanta has already traded away Jason Heyward, and has reportedly been in fairly serious trade discussions with teams involving both Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. It had looked like the Braves were intending to drop some salary, dish off some assets who have contracts set to expire in the near future and

Span undergoes surgery to repair sports hernia

Nationals center fielder Denard Span underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia, the team announced today. The surgery was successful, per the team, and Span is expected to be ready for spring training, which will begin in a little less than three months. Span tweeted out a picture of himself in a hospital bed earlier this morning, sending off alarm bells among some Nats fans.

Nats tender contracts to all 10 remaining arbitration-eligible players

The Nationals announced today that they have tendered contracts to all 10 of their remaining arbitration-eligible players - left-handers Jerry Blevins and Ross Detwiler, right-handers Tyler Clippard, Doug Fister, Craig Stammen, Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg, infielder Danny Espinosa and catchers Jose Lobaton and Wilson Ramos. This means that, at least for now, all 10 of those players will remain under the Nationals’ control. It

It’s time for teams to tender

The latest deadline in the offseason schedule comes at midnight, when all 30 major league teams must decide whether to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. That means throughout the day, we’ll have plenty of news popping up on teams who have offered contracts to players, reached terms with others and cut some loose, allowing them to become free agents. The Nationals had 11 (and

Four years in, a look at the Werth contract

Back when Jayson Werth signed his seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals, many people weren’t shy about criticizing the contract, saying the amount of money the Nats were giving Werth far exceeded the market and what could be expected of the veteran outfielder. You don’t hear people banging that drum too hard these days, however. So far, Werth has played four seasons in D.C.,

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