The Nationals’ Search For Pitching

Justin Duchscherer is the latest pitcher to decline the Nationals' overtures and sign elsewhere, but he's certainly not the only one. The Nationals showed interest in Zack Greinke, Cliff Lee, Carl Pavano, Jorge de la Rosa, Chris Young, Javier Vazquez, Brandon Webb and Jeff Francis this offseason, without landing any of those pitchers.

It's not unusual for teams to check in on a number of free agents and potential trade targets and it's not like GM Mike Rizzo wanted to sign all of the starters he expressed interest in. The Nationals aren't necessarily surprised or disappointed to have missed out on free agents in whom they had just passing interest.

But the Nationals did have trouble attracting elite pitchers like Lee and Greinke to Washington this winter. Earlier in the month, Rizzo told Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post that luring free agents to D.C. isn’t easy.

"It shows the difficulty of trying to build something," Rizzo said. "The only thing that convinces players to come is winning. It's the chicken and the egg. Which comes first? Do you win and then the players come, or do the players come and then you win?"

The Nationals sidestepped free agency and acquired Tom Gorzelanny in a trade with the Cubs, but only after missing out on another offseason trade target, Matt Garza. The Nationals were willing to spend in free agency, but did not surrender the trade chips required to acquire a pitcher of Garza's caliber.

Gorzelanny joins Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Jordan Zimmermann in a rotation that will include Stephen Strasburg once he recovers from Tommy John surgery. It's a passable rotation, but the Nationals had hoped for more. If and when they start winning, luring free agent arms to D.C. will likely be easier, but Rizzo has a challenge before him until then.


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64 Comments on "The Nationals’ Search For Pitching"


$1529282
4 years 7 months ago

Surprised Duke opted for the O’s over Washington… pitching in the NL at a pitcher-friendly park sure seems like a better way to boost your market value than joining the AL East and the launching pad at Camden Yards.

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

I thought that too at first, also the Nats have a better chance of winning than the O’s (not saying either is a major threat this year).

But when I gave it some thought, it makes perfect sense that he’d rather go to the O’s (read – American League). Not hitting means less of a chance to get injured, means better chance to show people that he can pitch over 100 innings. The last thing he needs is another injury, especially for something silly like taking a bad swing, or sliding into a bag.

Catztradamus
4 years 7 months ago

Probably more guaranteed money and a better chance at making the rotation in Baltimore. Duke did not want to go someplace where he may end up in the Pen.

On a brighter note, As I Philly fan, I will happily trade Joe Blanton for two bags of BP balls and season passes for four to the Smithsonian.

$1529282
4 years 7 months ago

Dan Connolly tweeted yesterday that Washington offered him a rotation spot. Just odd to me.

lefty177
4 years 7 months ago

i know you’re not Dan but who would they have pulled out of the rotation if they had signed him? Lannan or Zimmerman?

Derek Teslik
4 years 7 months ago

FYI the Smithsonian is free. I’d hold out for Newseum passes. That joint is expensive.

Catztradamus
4 years 7 months ago

I was aware of that Buck.. My stab at ironic humor…lol.

jwsox
4 years 7 months ago

Dude have you ever been to the Smithsonian? Its freaking awesome no way only one year of season passes is worth blanton, maybe 2 bag of BP balls and season passes for four for the next 4 years.

4 years 7 months ago

You don’t need passes to the Smithsonian. They are free.

comish4lif
4 years 7 months ago

I have to figure that Duchscherer felt he had a better chance of making the rotation in Baltimore. Tillman posted a 5.87 ERA at the age of 22, and may need some more time in the minors.

While the Nats rotation is underwhelming, at least they have veteran arms. And I’d guess that the depth of mediocre pitching made Duch feel better about cracking the Balto rotation.

amarenna
4 years 7 months ago

I just don’t understand why the O’s are seemingly a more appealing team to players (especially pitchers) right now than the Nats. The O’s are simply BURIED in the AL East, and like MorneauVP said Camden Yard is a deathtrap for pitchers. The Nats have a great direction as an organization, are in a league where Wild Card is always a possibility and the division is never completely out of reach, and lots of money to spend on the right people. They are building great infrastructure around the ballpark (which is really nice in and of itself), often have high profile VIPs in the audience as a result of the DC market, and have potential for immediate impact and endorsements in a developing large market.

If I were a player, I’d give the Nats more than a passing glance, and would certainly go to them begging on my knees before joining the Orioles.

BadHumor
4 years 7 months ago

Cool story bro

Lunchbox45
4 years 7 months ago

at least your screen name is accurate

4 years 7 months ago

Is it 2009?

wickedkevin
4 years 7 months ago

Seriously! I think he meant “cool story brah”

Baltimorerag
4 years 7 months ago

Is that you, Mike Rizzo?

amarenna
4 years 7 months ago

Haha I wish. That’s not a bad salary.

native_astro
4 years 7 months ago

I’m sure they’ll be in on Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Meyers when they become available by May 1st.

rico7961
4 years 7 months ago

Maybe the Nationals can go after one of the Twins surplus starters. I think Baker Blackburn, Slowey or Duensing would be available in the right trade. The Twins are always looking to cut payroll and by dealing anyone but Duensing they accomplish that. I don’t know what young, cost controlled players the Nats are willing offer but the Twins need middle infielders. Maybe offer Desmond or Espinosa, or some young infielder in their system for one of their starters.

$1742854
4 years 7 months ago

Storen for Slowey. Sold.

rico7961
4 years 7 months ago

I think the Twins might like that deal if it was offered. I know I would.

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 7 months ago

Not a chance in hell Rizzo would ever accept that trade

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Unless Storen is moving to the rotation thats a good deal for WSH.

Chuck345
4 years 7 months ago

Orioles or Nationals…could be possible that Justin Duchscherer wrote both team names on a piece of paper then closed his eyes and went to the team where his finger landed.

WolandJR
4 years 7 months ago

I think that this story has a lot more to do with the Rizzo talking big, but with no real intent to back it up. Who really turned down the Nats? De la Rosa and Grienke. Not many others even received offers from the Nats, and nor should they have. Pavano is only good in Minnesota. Lee was only going to Philly (though none of us knew that at the time). And all the other guys were middling or were reclamation projects and we have enough of those types of guys…

TwinsVet
4 years 7 months ago

“Pavano is only good in Minnesota” makes me laugh.

He’s actually been fairly decent everywhere but New York.

WolandJR
4 years 7 months ago

I love Pavano in Minnesota–particularly at the terms you signed him to! For the Nats to get him they would have had to offer 3/$30mil, and that would have sucked. Same deal with all the other guys we ‘missed out’ on. I don’t have a huge problem overpaying for elite talent (a label that Werth sort of qualifies for). But overpaying for average stuff (see Marquis, J.) generally has bad consequences for teams like the nats.

4 years 7 months ago

He was actually decent in New York too…for about the 3 starts he was able to make.

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 7 months ago

What are you talking about? Nationals made an offer to Lee, Young, Webb, and Vasquez… Jeff Francis I’m not sure about

Lunchbox45
4 years 7 months ago

Nats should offer Petitte a 2 year 30 million dollar deal

Pseudonymus Bosch
4 years 7 months ago

“may not have had the trade chips to acquire a pitcher of Garza’s caliber.”

Matt Garza FIP 2007-10: 4.18, 4.14, 4.17, 4.42
Gorzelanny FIP 2007-10: 4.24, 6.35*, 3.91, 3.92
*injury/Verducci effect year

TwinsVet
4 years 7 months ago

[insert East Coast media bias argument here]

wickedkevin
4 years 7 months ago

[insert me assuming you are just jealous because you live in the midwest]

4 years 7 months ago

[laughs at Kevin’s head going up his @$$]

wickedkevin
4 years 7 months ago

douche

4 years 7 months ago

Hypocrite

MannyBeingMVP
4 years 7 months ago

I am surprised that the article did not mention another nationals’ starter, Chien-Ming Wang. I had heard that he pitched well in Winter Ball and could be a middle of the rotation pitcher by may 2011.

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 7 months ago

Wang didn’t pitch in Winter Leagues to my knowledge, but a name everyone seems to have forgotten about is Yunesky Maya, I’ll attribute the poor major league outings last year to being out of baseball for over a year and having a little rust

In 8 starts he posted a 1.32 ERA. In those 41 IP he struck out 42 while only walking 8 and had a .88 WHIP holding batters to a .193 avg

He and Wang will be the biggest surprises of the rotation this year for the Nationals imo, hopefully good ones

MannyBeingMVP
4 years 7 months ago

I was thinking of the instructional league, not the winter league. But I still think that Wang will be among the Nationals’ four best starters well before the AS break.

Nationals Face Decision On Chien-Ming Wang
By Tim Dierkes [October 12, 2010 at 3:55pm CST]
Chien-Ming Wang pitched again in the instructional league today, and Bob Klapisch tweets word from a scout that he looked “filthy.” Wang hit 89 mph and got four groundballs in 17 pitches, reports MASN’s Ben Goessling.

disgustedcubfan
4 years 7 months ago

If Smardrziga doesn’t make the opening day roster, the Cubs will be dealing him.
He’s a guy who could maybe use a change of scenery.

4 years 7 months ago

Mike Rizzo has done a good job this offseason. Signing Werth was the key. Yes they had to overpay but that was the only way they could lure a top tier free agent. The fans in DC should be happy because they have team owners who are willing to shell out the big bucks and not pocket them like other team owners.

Catztradamus
4 years 7 months ago

By key, I assume you mean “key to the begining of a financial meltdown of epic proportions, and the first in a long line of overpaying for aging middle of the top of the pack clients represented by Scott Boras?”

The Werth deal was the WORST contract of the offseason, and not because of how much they overpayed, but because NO ONE ELSE was close on dollars or years. He was looking at 4-5 80-90/per MAX, befire Rizzo’s best buddy called and suckered him in.

In three years when they are ready to try and contend, they won’t be able to because Werth will be restraining them financially and on the field. He’ll be a 36 year old centerfielder (Cause theres this kid Harper who plays RF,) making 20 million per. , who’s knees are giving out, hitting 260 with 65 RBI and 25 doubles. He’ll be lucky to break 20 home runs ever again playing in that park rather than in Philly. You don’t give franchise money to a guy who’s never been anything more than a very good complementary piece.

Trust me. Vernon Wells deal got Nuthin on Werths. But at that point Wells deal will be done in LA so maybe they’ll trade Mike Trout for Werth…

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud Rizzo and the Nats for trying to make things happen and going after big names. But with Werth it was like they did it to make a statement. So they could say they lured one of the biggest names on the market.

Wrong name, wrong statement.

YerHero
4 years 7 months ago

“beginning of a financial meltdown of epic proportions…”

It’s kind of the ‘in’ thing in DC these days.

WisBrave
4 years 7 months ago

I’m positive they’ll have the right trade chips to trade for K.K., in fact they probably won’t even need trade chips just take on half of his salary. Heck of a deal better hurry before someone else gets him!!

nats2012
4 years 7 months ago

He probably didnt want to hit coming off his injury in the NL, I dont see him as a upgrade over what we have now anyway, lets just see how the 5 guys do this year and who fits into the rotation for when Strasburg get back.

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Why would someone want to go to DC? Baltimore’s worse in that it’s in the AL East. And with that beautiful new ballyard….don’t get it.

wickedkevin
4 years 7 months ago

I don’t understand your post? No really…what did you just say?

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Well, why would free agents want to DC? With the new ball park and being in the NL. Especially when you compare it to Baltimore where I free agents ARE signing over going to the Nats.

wickedkevin
4 years 7 months ago

Why do you keep contracting yourself? I don’t understand if you are arguing for or against going to DC. Why would they want to go to DC: It’s a new ballpark, it’s in the NL, young team, future contender. Is that what you are trying to say?

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Dude, chill out, man. I just made a general statement about the state of the Nats. Chill!!

Lunchbox45
4 years 7 months ago

me fail english. thats un possible

4 years 7 months ago

This conversation literally made me laugh out loud.

Jason Klinger
4 years 7 months ago

He’s trying to say that he (and all of us) cannot understand what you are writing. Are you implying free agents DO or DO NOT view D.C. as a viable destination?

Natinals
4 years 7 months ago

He gave up.

wickedkevin
4 years 7 months ago

Me too.

4 years 7 months ago

The Nats rotation is fine. Everyone knows they won’t compete this year or even next year for that matter. See what happens with the young arms and go from there. Being rejected by Duchroscher is the least of their problems.

nats2012
4 years 7 months ago

And this list can be this long for every team for who they “expressed interest in”. De le Rosa and Greinke are the only two we gave offers too. And the rest of the list other than Lee and Pavano are back of the rotation guys that we have already and most of them are coming off injuries.

Lunchbox45
4 years 7 months ago

in 5 years, free agents will be leaving money on the table to sign with the nats.. Its a tough time, but it will get better

Smrtbusnisman04
4 years 7 months ago

Can anyone tell Strasburg’s status for 2011? I thought he was not supposed to pitch pro ball this year.

Natinals
4 years 7 months ago

They’re saying if everything goes right from now on, he will start his rehab assignment after the allstar break. Honestly, I would not do that though

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 7 months ago

August-September callup at the earliest… He’ll pitch opening day in 2012..barring any more injuries

MannyBeingMVP
4 years 7 months ago

The Nationals would be foolish to pitch Strasburg this year, even if they are somehow in contention. And let’s face it, barring multiple injuries to their most key personnel, the Phillies should be ten games up on their division rivals by mid-August. While there are differences, Strasburg reminds me of Kerry Wood. Let him take his time.

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 7 months ago

I hope you’re right…but if the Nationals want to see out a few games in August-September that’s when he’ll return. I’m hoping to not see him in D.C. till 2012

Smrtbusnisman04
4 years 7 months ago

The Nats aren’t stupid.. They won’t start him on opening day.