Nationals Notes: Molina, Tanaka, Payroll

The Nationals had interest in Jose Molina as the club's backup catcher in 2014, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports, but Molina instead chose to re-sign with Tampa Bay.  This leaves Chris Snyder (signed to a minor league deal two weeks ago) and prospects Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon as the current candidates to spell Wilson Ramos behind the plate.  Ladson discusses the Nats' middle infield options, a possible lineup and other topics as part of his reader mailbag piece.  Here are some more Nationals-related items….

  • James Wagner and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post have a Nationals mailbag piece of their own, which includes Kilgore's opinion that the Nats won't pursue Masahiro Tanaka "in any meaningful way" since he'll command too high a price.  That said, the Nats have scouted Tanaka and like him; the baseball operations department feels Tanaka is "pretty close in quality to Yu Darvish" except they project Tanaka as a dominant ground-ball pitcher instead of a big strikeout arm.   
  • Rather than spend on Tanaka, the Nationals will use their remaining funds on extensions for Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann.  Kilgore opines that the Nats could sign Tanaka and then use Zimmermann as trade bait (as they may explore trading him next winter anyway if he can't be extended), but he firmly says that this scenario is just his speculation and it's "not happening" in real life.
  • Based on past indications by ownership, the Nationals' payroll will never rise much higher than $140MM in the near future.  The Lerners could eventually change course and elevate the payroll to nearer the luxury tax level, Kilgore writes, if they believed such spending would generate more revenue.
  • The Nationals could bolster their roster with five lower-tier free agents, Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com writes.  Jeff Baker and John Buck would add veteran depth for the bench, Mike Gonzalez or Oliver Perez would fit as more left-handed depth in the bullpen and Fernando Rodney could be a surprise closer signing if the Nats are still unsatisfied with the back end of their bullpen.

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