Executives with rival organizations anticipate some big moves from the Nationals this winter, according to a report from Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Washington is particularly motivated to build out an already talented roster given its recent postseason failings, he notes.
GM Mike Rizzo appears to be dabbling in several intriguing areas. We’ve already heard of interest in White Sox lefty Chris Sale, and an official with another team says that the Nats “are hovering” on the ace southpaw. While they won’t deal Trea Turner, that exec notes that Rizzo and co. “are open on a lot of different things.”
One other intriguing possibility is Yoenis Cespedes, whom the Nationals pursued with some seriousness last winter. Generally, D.C. is “looking for a right-handed power bat,” one source tells Sherman, noting that the club also looked into Jose Bautista (now a free agent) at the trade deadline.
Whether or not any of those particular concepts comes to fruition is anyone’s guess, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the Nationals have often surprised with his biggest strikes. The signing of Max Scherzer was largely unforeseen, as was the trade for Doug Fister and the swap that netted Turner and Joe Ross.
According to Sherman, the Nats are “aggressively” shopping lefty Gio Gonzalez, who struggled in the earned run department and showed a velocity drop last year, but has largely maintained quality peripherals and thrown a lot of good innings. He’d be an appealing piece to a variety of other organizations, and might bring back a useful veteran at an area of need or simply free up funds and a rotation spot while landing some prospect capital.
As I explained in assessing the Nationals’ offseason outlook, it remains to be seen just how high the organization will push its payroll. Washington is already within $20MM of its team-record 2015 balance sheet, and has several notable needs — including, potentially, a center fielder (or shortstop), catcher, and closer. The club has also been forced to defer salary in several notable instances, at least in part due to the ongoing MASN television rights fees dispute with the Orioles. But with some roster flexibility, intriguing young pitching in the upper levels of the minors, and an apparent willingness to push the envelope, there are plenty of avenues for Rizzo to exercise his creative faculties to improve the roster over the coming months.