Washington Nationals Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2013

Washington Nationals Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    The 2013 season didn't go the way that the Washington Nationals had hoped, but this offseason will give the team a chance to rebound and try to get back to the postseason next year.

    Washington made a late run at the playoffs but fell short.

    Although most of the roster appears to be set, the bullpen could use some help. Washington's relievers ranked in the bottom half of the league, and an improved bullpen could be the final piece of the puzzle.

    Don't look for many flashy moves by the Nationals this winter. The front of their rotation is set, and their position players are pretty much locked in. There could be some minor moves, but fans shouldn't be expecting much from the team this offseason.

    The biggest news may be about locking up some of the current players. The team has a few players, such as Ian Desmond, who may be in line for extensions, so keep an eye on those players.

    As MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported on Thursday, Matt Williams has been named the manager. Now he can start figuring out what he has on the roster.

    Be sure to check back here on a daily basis to see what kind of rumors and deals the Nationals are involved in. This tracker will be updated every day to make sure fans know what is happening with Washington.

Washington's Own Free Agents and Done Deals

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    Done Deals

    Nov. 25: Acquired OF John Wooten from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for LHP Fernando Abad

    Dec. 2: Acquired RHP Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers, according to MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo, in exchange for INF Steve Lombardozzi, LHP Ian Krol and a prospect, via Cotillo and confirmed by the Nationals. 

    Dec. 6: Signed OF Nate McLouth to a two-year contract, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, worth $10.75 million with an option, via Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun

    Dec. 11: Acquired LHP Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for OF Billy Burns

    Dec. 19: Traded OF Corey Brown to the Oakland Athletics, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, for cash, via The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore


    Washington Free Agents Who Signed Elsewhere

    Nov. 24: RHP Dan Haren has signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with an option for 2015 that vests if he throws 180 innings next season, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.


    Washington Free Agents

    1B/3B Chad Tracy (Age 33)

    2013 stats: 92 G, .202/.243/.326, 4 HR, 4 2B, 11 RBI, 7 BB, 25 K

Arbitration Eligible Players

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    RHP Tyler Clippard

    SS Ian Desmond

    LHP Ross Detwiler

    RHP Doug Fister

    C Wilson Ramos

    RHP Ross Ohlendorf (Dec. 2: Signed a one-year deal, worth $1.25 million)

    RHP Stephen Strasburg

    RHP Drew Storen

    RHP Jordan Zimmermann

Dec. 11: Acquire LHP Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics

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    Age: 30

    Throws: L

    2013 Stats: 67 G, 5-0, 3.15 ERA, 60 IP, 1.067 WHIP, 52 K/17 BB

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible, under club control through the 2015 season


    The Washington Nationals have finally acquired a left-handed reliever that the team desperately wanted. MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo reported that the Nationals have acquired Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan reported that Washington sent its minor league player of the year Billy Burns to Oakland.

    Blevins went 5-0 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.067 WHIP for the A's in 2013. The left-hander struck out 52 batters and walked only 17 in 60 innings in 67 games.

    The 30-year-old has a 3.30 ERA with a 1.213 WHIP in his seven-year career, all in Oakland.

    As much as the Nationals needed a left-handed reliever, this is no ordinary southpaw. In 2013, Blevins held right-handed hitters to a .190 average compared to a .253 average by left-handers. Five of the seven home runs he allowed came to left-handed batters.

    Blevins can pitch away from the spacious stadium in Oakland. He held opponents to a .202 average on the road this past season.

    It was a strong move by the Nationals. They gave up a promising prospect with great speed in exchange for a left-handed reliever, but this move helps the team win now. 

    With Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano already in the bullpen, this trade gives the Nationals a strong group of receivers. This move could allow the Nationals to trade either Storen or Clippard, but they would certainly have a talented back of the bullpen if they kept all of the relievers.

Nationals Do Not Plan on Trading Denard Span

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    Center fielder Denard Span came to Washington just last offseason, but the team is listening to offers for him, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 4:50 p.m. ET

    Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Press wrote that the Washington Nationals do not plan on trading Denard Span.

    ---End of update---


    It is somewhat surprising given how Span played this past season and his age (29). Heyman also reported that the Nationals are interested in free agent Jacoby Ellsbury, but now that the free agent has signed with the New York Yankees, Span is probably staying put.

    Span hit .279/.327/.380 with four home runs, 28 doubles, 11 triples and 20 stolen bases in his first year in the nation's capital. He led the majors in triples.

    His average stayed around his .283 career average, and he had the most triples and second-most doubles he has had through his first six seasons.

    It's not clear what the Nationals will do with Span, but they are at least listening to offers at the moment.

Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen Drawing a Lot of Interest

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    The Nationals have a pair of relievers in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard that the Chicago Cubs are interested in, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer.


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:46 a.m. ET 

    MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote that a talent evaluator outside of Washington's organization believes that Storen is more likely than Clippard to be dealt. Storen is young, affordable and could probably bring back a left-hander back in return. However, he can be inconsistent at times.

    Clippard is a valuable member of the Nationals bullpen who can also close. 

    ---End of update--- 


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:46 a.m. ET 

    Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post tweeted that talks between the Cubs and the Nationals involving Storen and Clippard are "dead." 

    ---End of update---


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:34 a.m. ET

    Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post tweeted that there is a lot of interest in Storen and Clippard, with Clippard reportedly drawing more interest. However, GM Mike Rizzo "would need his socks knocked off" by an offer in order to deal either reliever.

    ---End of update---


    The Cubs desperately need help in the bullpen. They are unlikely to re-sign closer Kevin Gregg, which makes Storen and Clippard very attractive pieces.

    Storen had 43 saves in 2011, and Clippard had 32 in 2012. Both pitchers have shown that they can come in and close the door, which is what Chicago is looking for.

    The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore tweeted that the Nationals would listen to the Cubs. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz and left-handed reliever James Russell would be good fits in Washington.

Eric Chavez: Free Agent Target

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    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that there are seven teams interested in Chavez. Teams interested: Diamondbacks, Braves, Yankees, Pirates, Rays, Rangers and Nationals.

    Injuries have kept Chavez from showing what he can do. He dealt with injuries to his oblique, knee and hip this year, all of which limited him to only 80 games this season.

    However, the 36-year-old hit .281/.332/.478 with nine home runs and 14 doubles in 2013. He hit .281 with 16 home runs with the Yankees in 2012, so he can still swing the bat and add some pop.

    He played in at least 115 games in eight straight (full) seasons to start his career. However, injuries have kept him from playing every day in recent years.

    Other than 2012, he has not played in more than 90 games since the end of 2006.

    With Ryan Zimmerman also working through injuries, Chavez would be a nice bat to have for insurance. A limited role would help keep him healthy and stay productive.

Danny Espinosa: Trade Candidate

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    The Nationals are looking at dealing infielder Danny Espinosa, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:37 a.m. ET

    Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post grabbed some quotes from GM Mike Rizzo on Espinosa and the backup infielder spot:

    I think we’re covered. I think Danny Espinosa could go and play third base extremely well. A guy who can play shortstop the way he plays shortstop and a guy who can play second base the way he plays second, I have all the confidence in the world that he can go to third and handle the position defensively.

    ---End of update---


    Espinosa hit only .158 in 44 games this past season. He has a career slash line of .230/.303/.396.

    His biggest problem at the plate is making contact. Espinosa led the league with 189 strikeouts in 2012 and has struck out in 30.3 percent of his at-bats in his career. 

    Now that Steve Lombardozzi is gone, Espinosa could take over as the team's utility man. However, it looks like the club may try to see what it can get for the 26-year-old.

Dec. 6: Outfielder Nate McLouth Signed a Two-Year Deal with the Nationals

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    Age: 32

    Bats: L

    2013 Stats: .258/.329/.399, 12 HR, 31 2B, 4 3B, 36 RBI, 30 SB


    The Washington Nationals have signed outfielder Nate McLouth to a two-year deal, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthalworth $10.75 million with an option, via Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the option is worth $6.5 million.

    The 32-year-old got off to a promising start to his career in 2005 before making an All-Star team and winning a Gold Glove in 2008.

    In 2013, McLouth hit .258/.329/.399 with 12 home runs, 31 doubles and four triples with the Baltimore Orioles. He added 30 stolen bases as well. The veteran can do a little bit of everything and step in when needed.

    McLouth signed to be a fourth outfielder, but he gives the team a nice backup in case something happens to one of their starting outfielders. He has a career slash line of .250/.334/.418 and showed that he can still be productive.

    He isn't the player that he once was, but the Nationals made a good move by signing McLouth. 

Dec. 2: Acquired RHP Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers

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    Age: 29

    Bats: R

    2013 Stats: 33 G/32 GS, 14-9, 3.67 ERA, 208.2 IP, 1 CG, 1.308 WHIP, 14 HR, 159 K/44 BB

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible, under team control through 2015


    The Washington Nationals have been looking for another starting pitcher, but that search is over after they acquired RHP Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers, according to MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo. The Nationals tweeted that they will send INF Steve Lombardozzi, LHP Ian Krol and LHP Robbie Ray to Detroit, which was first reported by Cotillo.

    Fister went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 2013. His 1.308 WHIP was the highest of his career, and his ERA has steadily increased in each of the past two seasons.

    The 29-year-old got his career on track after being acquired by the Tigers from the Seattle Mariners in the middle of the 2011 season. He posted a 3.81 ERA in just over two seasons in Seattle, but he lowered it down to 3.29 in 70 appearances, including 68 starts, with Detroit.

    For those Nationals fans who are wondering, Fister has pitched very well in the postseason. He is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP in eight postseason appearances, including seven starts. The veteran has had six straight quality starts in the postseason, and he has not allowed more than three runs in any postseason start. In his 48.1 career postseason innings, he has allowed just two home runs.

    Fister does a great job of keeping the ball inside the park. The right-hander has never allowed more than 15 home runs in a season. 

    He has also done a great job of eating innings. He has pitched more than 200 innings twice so far in his five-year career, which will help Washington's bullpen. He threw 208.2 innings in 2013, and they were quality innings.

    The Nationals lost Dan Haren earlier this offseason, but they have replaced him with a younger pitcher. With Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez Jordan Zimmermann and now Fister, the Nationals have a very formidable rotation.

    Washington made the 2012 postseason with great pitching, and this acquisition should help them get back to that formula.

Dan Haren: Signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Dan Haren had a disappointing year in his first year with the Nationals, and he will not return next season.

    RHP Dan Haren has signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with an option for 2015 that vests if he throws 180 innings next season, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Haren has thrown at least 200 innings in a season seven times in his 11-year career, so he can certainly be a workhorse. His innings have gone down the last two years, but that is only because he hasn't been as effective rather than due to injuries.

    Since joining the Oakland Athletics in 2005, he has made at least 30 starts in every season. The last two years batters have started to hit him harder as he has allowed 28 homers in both seasons.

    The 33-year-old still has a chance to prove that he can be an effective pitcher. Many teams needed help in the rotation, but Haren chose the Dodgers.



Jeff Samardzija: Possible Trade Target

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    Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post wrote that the Nationals are expected to explore a possible deal for Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija.


    *Update: Friday, Nov. 15 at 7:10 p.m. ET

    ChicagoNow.com's Tom Loxas wrote that the Nationals are the team to watch when it comes to Jeff Samardzija. 

    Although the Arizona Diamondbacks have been linked to the pitcher, they may not be willing to put together a good enough package. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates are also interested in acquiring Samardzija.

    ---End of update---


    The Cubs could try to give the 28-year-old a contract to cover the rest of his arbitration years and perhaps beyond that. If they decide to dangle him on the trade block, the Nationals will be interested.

    Samardzija is a cheaper option in terms of money and prospects than either Tampa Bay's David Price and Detroit's Max Scherzer, who are likely the last two AL Cy Young winners.

    Samardzija right-hander finished the year 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA. The right-hander did strike out 214 batters in 213.2 innings, so he showed that he can be a workhorse.

David Price: Possible Trade Target

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    FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal also throws out David Price's name as a possible target. The Tampa Bay Rays may look to move the 2012 American League Cy Young winner given that is set to make a lot of money. If they do, the Nationals could be among the teams interested.

    Price's four complete games tied for the AL lead, and he has shown the ability to be a workhorse. Before this past season, the southpaw had thrown at least 200 innings in three straight seasons.

    He is 71-39 with a 3.19 ERA in six seasons with the Rays.

    Washington may check out Price, but the price is going to be steep. The 28-year-old is under club control for two more seasons.



Ian Desmond: SS, Eligible for Arbitration

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    Ian Desmond is a solid all-around player, and he could be in line for an extension this offseason.

    He hit .280 with 20 home runs, 38 doubles, three triples and 80 RBI this past season. The shortstop hit .292 with 25 homers, 33 doubles and 73 RBI two years ago. He has stolen 21 bases in each of the last two years as well. He has been consistent, so the Nationals know what they are getting from him.

    Desmond has made an All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger. He was also a finalist for the Gold Glove this year, so he is a terrific all-around player.

    Desmond continues to put up great numbers, and the 28-year-old is eligible for arbitration the next two years. As he continues to put up those numbers, his value will only go up. Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com suggests that Desmond could be in talks for an extension this offseason.