Washington Nationals: Winter Meetings Day One Recap

June 21, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
June 21, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The first day of the Winter Meetings was quiet for the Washington Nationals regarding trades or free agent signings, but during the night a major development occurred.

The Washington Nationals have been linked to the Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale since the offseason started.

It seemed unlikely the club was willing to pony up the prospects to trade for the southpaw.

However, things have changed and it’s possible that Sale might be coming to the nation’s capital, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

The two prospects we know who would be included in the deal are minor league outfielder Victor Robles and pitcher Lucas Giolito.

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They’re two of the better players in the Nationals farm system, as indicated by MLB Pipeline on MLB.com.

There are other moving parts before this deal will get finalized and more prospects will probably be headed to the White Sox.

If Rizzo is able to acquire Sale without giving up Trea Turner, that makes this move even more impressive.

Sale would give the Nats a fearsome trio at the top of the rotation with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

The club would be a favorite to not only win the National League East, but to go far in the postseason.

There was other news broke out Monday concerning superstar OF Bryce Harper and his contract demands.

He is looking for a 10-year, $400 million contract when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season.

It’s not surprising the Nats were taken aback by those demands and are prepared to move on after 2018, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Harper didn’t follow up his MVP season in terrific fashion and allocating an extreme amount of money to one player wouldn’t be smart.

There was one move that impacted the Nationals on Monday as reliever Mark Melancon inked a four-year pact with the San Francisco Giants and the deal includes an opt-out clause after the second season, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

The Giants desperately needed to add a reliable closer as finishing off games during the regular season and postseason was a major problem for them.

Melancon was a reliever the Nats were targeting to be their closer. He was superb in this role for them last year as he blew just one save in 18 opportunities.

He was one of three premier free agent closers available along with Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman.

The team will need to look at other options to bolster their bullpen.

Some relievers to consider are Brad Ziegler, Neftali Feliz, and Greg Holland.

Wade Davis is an option for them, but he could be dealt.

The Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals have talked about a deal that would send OF Lorenzo Cain and Davis to the Cardinals for IF Kolten Wong and prospects, per John Perrotto of FanRag Sports.

Davis is someone that many teams will covet with Melancon off the board. If the Nats want to acquire Davis, they will have to act swiftly.

The New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles were discussing a deal that would send OF Curtis Granderson to Baltimore and reliever Brad Brach to New York, says Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

This would also impact the Nats as a division rival would strengthen their bullpen. Brach compiled a 2.05 ERA in 79 innings last season as the setup man for Zach Britton.

Another division rival in the Miami Marlins is going after Jansen. Jansen is seeking a deal for at least five years’ worth over $80 million.

The Marlins already have a solid group of arms in the bullpen with A.J. Ramos, David Phelps, and Kyle Barraclough.

They can keep all of those arms and build a super bullpen with Jansen or move one of them to acquire a starting pitcher.

If either deal gets completed, it will put some pressure on the Nats.

Other deals that were completed on day one was the Philadelphia Phillies signing reliever Joaquin Benoit to a one-year, $7.5 million contract, per Matt Gelb of the Philadephia Inquirer.

The Toronto Blue Jays inked IF/OF Steve Pearce to a two-year contract worth $12.5 million, says Buster Olney of ESPN.

The Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed starter Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.

Of these three, only the Hill signing affects the Nationals.

Hill was the top free agent starter available and teams looking for impressive pitching will turn to the trade market.

The Nationals were discussing a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew McCutchen, but the asking price from the Pirates is too high and have backed off, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

It would be great if the Nats could get McCutchen , but if it involves depleting the farm system, then it wouldn’t be worth it.

Next: Should Nats Mortgage Future?

There are free agent options available for them to add an outfielder.