For Day 1 of the 2016 Winter Meetings, Ricky Keeler and Ron Juckett will keep you up to date on the Washington Nationals news and rumors
Today marks the beginning of the 2016 Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland. This is the week where a lot of the baseball experts think that the Washington Nationals will be one of the busiest teams. For the next four days, myself and fellow co-editor Ron Juckett will keep you posted on all the latest news and rumors being reported surrounding the Nats.
Throughout the last few days, the Washington Nationals have been rumored to be in trade discussions for White Sox ace Chris Sale and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Plus, they are one of the teams in the sweepstakes for closer Mark Melancon. How many of those big names will the Nats be able to land this week?
9:51 p.m. – Ken Rosenthal says the White Sox and Nationals are likely close to a deal that would send Sale to Washington for Robles and Giolito.
Bob Nightengale says, however, a deal is not expected tonight:
It may not come tonight, but the Nats are in the driver’s seat.
8:50 p.m – Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and MLB Network tweets that a couple of the Rays starters are out there and if its the same teams that are in on Sale, then the Washington Nationals have to be one of those teams, you would think:
8:32 p.m – We reportedly have an answer as to how far apart the Nats contract offer was for Melancon compared to the Giants. Here’s the answer from Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, who was on MLB Network Radio tonight:
6:10 p.m – Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Nats are finding the asking price from the Pirates for McCutchen to be a bit high, but they remain in on Sale. This is somewhat surprising because you would likely have to give up more for Sale than McCutchen, but Sale does have more years of control:
6:00 p.m – Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports and MLB Network tweets that the Washington Nationals have checked in on the availability of Royals closer Wade Davis. Davis has one year left on his deal worth $10 million and was also a name that came up at last year’s Trade Deadline:
5:47 p.m – Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that Melancon’s deal with the Giants does come with an opt-out clause. Makes you wonder whether or not the Nats did put an opt-out in their offer as well:
5:32 p.m – It sounds like the Washington Nationals outfield search might not be limited to center field. Rizzo also mentioned in his presser about Harper’s versatility in the outfield:
5:23 p.m – In his press conference with the media, Rizzo talked about whether or not he feels any urgency to win with this group of players:
4:32 p.m. – Neal Huntington on MLB Network now. They are not in the market most years for free agents. They feel if McCutchen decides to hit free agency they want to get something for him. They plan on contending in the future, but resources will dictate where money is spent.
You can infer if they do not get their high price met, they will go into 2017 with McCutchen on the team. A smart move for them, right now.
4:00 p.m. – Here is a bit more proof trading for both Sale and McCutchen is exceedingly difficult:
If these players move to Chicago, who would you send to Pittsburgh for McCutchen. Hard to see how to do both.
3:20 p.m. – On MLB Network, Biertempfel reports the Pirates are not compelled to trade McCutchen, but will need to answer to fans if they do not.
McCutchen is due to sign autographs next weekend at the Pirates fan fest.
3:18 p.m. – Pittsburgh wants what for McCutchen?
Biertempfel from the Pittsburgh Tribune lays out the high cost of business. Chelsea Janes says the Nats are holding firm keeping Robles.
3:03 p.m. – Here is Ron’s story on the Nationals dumping on Joe Ross.
3:00 p.m. – And we now might know why the Nationals are pressed to win right now:
Can’t say this is a surprise on either side. It is also unclear whether the Nats can afford it. We will address this in a deeper article in a bit.
2:47 p.m. – Ken Rosenthal tells MLB Tonight Ian Desmond is open for a return to the infield and Washington offered Melancon $60 million.
Nats obviously would need Desmond as an outfielder. Regarding Melancon, did Washington offer deferred money he declined? Two million is not a substantial difference.
Joel Sherman says on the same show Houston is pursuing Chris Sale.
2:24 p.m. – On MLB Network Radio, Rizzo drops this tidbit:
Intersting since the Nats traded for Derek Norris and are supposedly not chasing Matt Wieters. Right now, they have three catchers. Is Norris pure tradebait?
2:11 p.m. – When asked about Bryce Harper’s long-term future, Rizzo does not answer. Says team is built to win now and minors are deep enough to win in the future.
2:08 p.m. – Mike Rizzo on MLB Network now:
Feels they have closing options internally.
Refuses to say Trea Turner is untouchable, but infers it.
2:05 p.m. – Looks like with closer, Washington is exploring plan “B.”
2:00 p.m. – Wonder how close they are?
White Sox have a number of pieces the Nats want. Adam Eaton, David Robertson and Sale.
1:45 p.m. – In interest of equal time:
1:38 p.m. – We may be at the point where the Nats need to decide who is the bigger need.
Hard to see Washington land both. Pirates hold huge leverage as long as other teams chase.
1:30 p.m. – Something to keep an eye on. Wade Davis is a trade interest from the Nats:
Cubs must feel they lost Chapman.
1:23 p.m. – Jon Heyman just told MLB Network’s Chris Russo he does not expect Chris Sale to be traded before Thursday and the Marlins to land Kenley Jansen. Jansen is close with manager Don Mattingly.
12:43 p.m – According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Melancon deal is done with the Giants, pending a physical:
12:15 a.m – If Melancon does end up going to the Bay Area, Mark Zuckerman of MASN tweets what other options the Nats might pursue to address the closer situation:
11:44 a.m – It appears the Washington Nationals have lost the Melancon sweepstakes. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network, Melancon is close to a deal with the Giants, who desperately needed to add a closer after all their blown saves this past season:
11:11 a.m – The Washington Nationals appear to have competition in their attempt to try to trade for center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports and MLB Network tweeted that the Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the teams interested in trading for McCutchen:
10:38 a.m – Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that the Washington Nationals are one of a few teams still in on the Kenley Jansen sweepstakes:
10:02 a.m – As the Sale rumors continue, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Nats along with the Houston Astros are the teams pushing the most for the White Sox ace, according to other executives:
8:56 a.m – If the Nats can’t get Melancon, another option could be Royals closer Greg Holland. TALKNats tweeted that according to their sources, the Washington Nationals remain interested in adding Holland:
8:43 a.m – The Washington Nationals need a closer this offseason, but is the price too high for them to bring back Melancon? While the Nats remain interested, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post is reporting that the Nats have not offered him $60 million, which could hurt their pursuit of the three-time All-Star:
"“But Melancon could still be too pricey as reports circulated Sunday that he had multiple four-year contract offers worth $60-plus million. The Nationals formally offered Melancon a four-year deal, but it was for less than $60 million, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, likely leaving them short in the race for his services.”"
Elite relief pitching is going to be at a premium and if the Washington Nationals aren’t able to get one of the big three closer options, they are going to have find a different way to figure out how to close games in the ninth inning. The Melancon situation is something to monitor over the next few days at these meetings.
Also, this morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network tweeted that other teams think the Marlins could offer a five-year to acquire a player who Don Mattingly managed while he was in Los Angeles, Kenley Jansen:
8:34 a.m – Are the Washington Nationals set at the catcher position after trading for Derek Norris? Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweeted that the plan seems to be to keep Norris at catcher:
8:23 a.m – Could Joe Ross be a critical piece in any blockbuster trade the Nats decide to make? Yesterday, Pete Kerzel wrote on MASNsports.com about how some people in the organization look at how long it took him to come back from the shoulder injury he had in early July this past season:
"“Keep an eye on righty Joe Ross. Though the Nationals don’t want to lose him, they might be willing to bundle him with a couple of prospects to make a trade more palatable for the team giving up a superstar. Ross has his champions in the organization, but there are some who question his toughness, based on last year’s slow progression back from a right shoulder injury.”"
Ross was the number four starter in this rotation last year, but only threw 105 innings last season. Rizzo is going to have to be creative in some ways if he wants to make a big deal done. While I was opposed to giving up Ross at the trade deadline in July for a rental (Ross’ contract is up in 2022), if the Nats can get someone with multiple years of control, it might not be a bad idea.
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(12/5/16 – 8:00 a.m ET) – Could the Washington Nationals pull off two blockbuster trades soon? According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Nationals are trying to land both Sale and McCutchen in a trade. Here is what Nightengale tweeted last night:
"The #Nats are actually trying to trade for Chris Sale AND Andrew McCutchen and believe they have the prospects to pull off both trades."
This would be a difficult task for Mike Rizzo to pull off because the Nats farm system has elite talent with Victor Robles, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez, but making both of those trades would deplete the farm system. At the same time, with the Nats looking to win now, it would be some kind of statement.
Keep it right here at District On Deck for all the latest news during this week’s Winter Meetings!