Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo wrapped up his session with reporters a little while ago and the indications — both from his meeting with us and from talking with several Nationals executives and industry sources — is that the Nationals aren’t on the verge of anything major.
Here are a few of Rizzo’s comments regarding various topics — namely what the starting pitching free agent market has looked like, the trade market for starters as well and the center field market — which has led the Nationals to remember they’re comfortable playing Jayson Werth in center field.
On if it’s safe to say he doesn’t feel pressure to pull of a trade for a center fielder because they know they have Werth and Bryce Harper: “Yes. I think you could say that. That was one of the reasons that (manager Davey Johnson) put Jayson out there (in September). To find out if we had a center fielder in-house. We felt that he played quite well out there so it doesn’t really key-hole us into having us to make a trade for a center fielder because we feel we could have a center fielder in-house already.
On if that means they’d then have to find a corner outfielder: “There’s a chance. We know that we’ve got in-house candidates with Harper and others that could fill that bill. Depending on if we deem Harp ready, when we feel he’s ready, goes into the equation.
On what the center field trade market has looked like: “It’s a position that’s very demanding and there’s not a big pool of those type of players so the teams that have them, they know what they have and they know the value that is placed on them in a trade and want to be compensated for them fairly.”
On how much of a factor their minor league center fielders like Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin play in the plans: “That’s definitely part of it. We definitely have in-house candidates to play center field. We just don’t feel that any one of them is ready in 2012 to take on the major league role. Suffice it to say, we feel we’re very deep in center field candidates, they’re just, right now, a few years away.”
On if that means the team would look for more of a 1-2 year option there: “Not necessarily. We feel that we’re going to be open minded on the type of player that we want to acquire. If it’s a shorter-term deal or it could be a longer-term deal that could grow with us also. We’re open minded in both because to not be open minded, restricts the pool of candidates too much.”
On what the team accomplished so far today: “We’ve met with several people today. Several agents and several teams. We’re not close to anything, but we continue to make progress and check things off our list that we need to accomplish before we leave the meetings. So far, we’ve met with two teams and two agents so far, but the day is young.”
On the trade market for starting pitchers: “There are a lot of appealing pitchers to us. The acquisition cost is high because they’re in such demand. You have to weigh acquiring a pitcher in a trade — does it benefit your ball club, or does it create more holes that you have to fill outside of the pitching market? There are a lot of pitchers that appeal.
“We certainly have been active in the starting pitching trade market. If the acquisition of one outweighs the pain of giving up a player or a package of good players that creates holes, then you can afford to do something.”
On if the team would consider giving a free agent a no-trade clause — with Jayson Werth as the first player in Nationals history to get one: “I guess, since we’ve opened that door. We prefer not to and they’ll be a huge part of the negotiation but for the right person, right player and the right fit, I think you have to be open minded and flexible enough to at least think about it and talk about it.”