NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A few notes as Day 2 of the Winter Meetings gets underway here at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel…
– We learned yesterday that the Nationals are unlikely to re-sign Sean Burnett at this point, with the left-hander’s market robust and his price likely out of the range the Nationals would be willing to stretch to. Burnett, a valuable member of the Nationals’ bullpen, was one of the best lefty relievers in the league last season and he’s clearly the top lefty reliever currently available on the free agent market. Most have set his market around the three-year, $18 million deal Jeremy Affeldt signed with the San Francisco Giants at the start of the offseason.
– The Nationals are fielding a lot of calls on Michael Morse, who has become a hot topic here with the Nationals continuing their pursuit of Adam LaRoche and with no place for Morse in the outfield. Morse could be used to help the Nationals acquire a starting pitcher, and allow them to pass on the free agent route to fill that need, so there are definitely teams who have been calling.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said he would move Morse — or any player — in the right deal even if the Nationals didn’t have LaRoche locked up, and he’d be comfortable, if he had to be, with Tyler Moore at first base. Needless to say, though, moving Morse would be easier if the LaRoche issue was settled.
– Speaking of LaRoche, here’s the latest on his negotiations with the Nationals, which didn’t move much on Monday. His market, however, did appear to shrink with the Boston Red Sox signing Mike Napoli and the Texas Rangers reportedly saying they’re not all that interested.
– The Nationals did lock up one left-handed reliever on Monday when they signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal, rewarding him for the strong season he posted in Triple-A and an impressive stint during his September call-up. Duke will be stretched out in spring training and will serve as starting pitching depth but will most likely end up filling the long relief role that was occupied by Tom Gorzelanny in 2012.
– One previously unmentioned bonus for the Nationals in their trade to acquire Denard Span, which has many obvious positives, is that it kept him away from the Braves. It sounds as though the Braves, who signed B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75 million deal, were interested in trading for Span as well and using him to play left field. An outfield of Jason Heyward, Upton and Span would have been extremely rangy and formidable, that’s for sure.
– As expected, the Nationals are still casting a wide net in their search for a No. 5 starter. They’re not limiting themselves to either the trade market or the free agent market, and they’re not winnowing their requirements down to anything specific just yet. Rizzo said the team is just looking for the most “impactful” starter they can get.
As for the most impactful starter available, the buzz around the lobby was that the Dodgers remain the favorites for Zack Greinke with most thinking no one else would be able to match them financially. The Nationals like Greinke, of course, but it might take something drastic for them to pay $150 million for him.
We’ll be back with more notes and updates throughout the day, so be sure to check back into Nationals Watch as Day 2 of the meetings gets going.