Chris Sale was the only starting pitcher that drew the Nationals’ interest, and after missing out on the southpaw, Washington won’t pursue any other rotation options, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. That includes Sale’s former teammate Jose Quintana, who was reported yesterday by FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman as a Nats target.
Starting pitching, of course, wasn’t a major need for the Nationals anyway this offseason. They’ll head into 2017 with a very strong projected rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez and Joe Ross, plus an enviable amount of young starting depth with the likes of Lucas Giolito, A.J. Cole, Reynaldo Lopez. Clearly, the Nats saw Sale as a unique case, and they were willing to give up an incredible amount of young talent for a top ace who is controllable through 2019 on a team-friendly contract.
If rotation help is no longer a priority, the question now becomes where the Nationals will go next for roster upgrades. With Mark Melancon signed by the Giants and Wade Davis perhaps on the verge of becoming a Cub, closer would be the next logical avenue. Rosenthal reports that the Nationals “consider themselves a longshot” to sign Aroldis Chapman due to a price tag that will likely be out of their comfort zone, and the same will probably be true of Kenley Jansen, the other ace closer remaining on the market.
If the big three free agent closers and Davis are all off the board, the Nats could look to sign one or two lower-tier relievers with closing experience rather than splurge on one star closer (the Marlins and Yankees are exploring similar “backup plans” if they can’t sign Chapman or Jansen). Washington could then address its other major need in center field, though with Bryce Harper’s ability to handle center, the Nats could also continue to pursue short-term right field options as well.