While we’ve heard some chatter suggesting the Nationals remain interested in trading for a top-shelf third baseman, Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo downplayed the possibility in comments to assembled media members including Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).
Rizzo didn’t exactly stamp out the possibility of a late-breaking addition. But he certainly poured a bucket of cold water on recent hints that the Nats could still be talking with teams like the Rockies (Nolan Arenado) and Cubs (Kris Bryant).
“We’re not looking to make a trade,” says Rizzo. “It’s nothing that’s been a priority for us in the offseason.”
It would be foolish to assume that those comments are decisive. After all, no executive would fully commit the team’s direction through the media. And Rizzo in particular has acted counter to his public indications in the past.
That said, the Nats’ multiple, smaller veteran infield additions run counter to the concept of a major trade for a third baseman. It’s possible to imagine a reshuffling of the roster that would accommodate a new star player, but the organization might’ve stayed its hand a bit more with its earlier moves if it saw that as a plausible outcome.
As things stand, the D.C. organization will seek to defend its crown by relying upon a gathering of options at third (and second) base. The team hopes that youngster Carter Kieboom can lock up the job in camp, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com writes. Otherwise, it’ll be a matter of mixing and matching. Another inexperienced player, Jake Noll, also has a 40-man spot and could push for a shot with a big spring. Veterans Asdrubal Cabrera, Howie Kendrick, and Starlin Castro all have spent time at the hot corner. Adrian Sanchez and Wilmer Difo will compete for a utility gig with veteran Emilio Bonifacio.