NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The winter meetings don’t “officially” end until mid-morning on Thursday, following the Rule 5 draft. But most of the Nationals, having accomplished almost all of their main offseason goals already, have made their exit from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
Nationals owner Mark Lerner, general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson all left Nashville on Wednesday afternoon, returning to D.C. with very little left on their to-do list and just in time to greet Dan Haren as he arrives for his physical.
“You know, we didn’t have a whole big wish list,” Johnson said before a luncheon with media and his flight home to Florida.
They left without getting a resolution on the negotiations with Adam LaRoche, but are still optimistic something could get done before Christmas.
They’re looking for starting pitching depth, likely to keep at Triple-A the way they did with Zach Duke and John Lannan in 2012, and they’re still in the market for more left-handed relief with J.P. Howell emerging as one of their top targets at this point. They can continue to figure all of that out from D.C., so they headed home.
LaRoche, though, remains their top priority and with his signing would likely come another move to free up what would be a logjam between he and Michael Morse.
Morse, who has drawn interest from several teams, could be used to help replenish a farm system that been depleted of some of it’s best prospects and starting pitching depth by the team’s recent trades.
“I won’t really sleep real comfortable until (LaRoche agrees),” Johnson said, though when asked if he felt the deal would get done he admitted “I think so.”
“I hope that gets worked out,” he said. “Everybody knows each other. Everybody has a lot of comfort zone, not just on the field but in the clubhouse. I had him at my golf tournament and I told him, ‘You don’t want to go somewhere and be miserable.’You know you’re going to have a good time in D.C.’ We’ll see.
“That’d be a nice Christmas present. That would put the icing on the cake.”