Hot Stove Headache

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | , , , , , | 3 comments »

I hate this time of year on the baseball calendar.

The General Manager's meetings started in Orlando today, a precursor to baseball's Winter Meetings the first week in December.  This week lays the groundwork for future deals -- rarely is a big deal or signing completed during this introductory phase. 

I'm sure there are some GMs out there still just compiling their list of available free agents, let alone moving on to an evaluation or discussion phase.

Anyway, there's plenty of talk and speculation about where free agents are going to land, or who is available on the trade market.  It all bores me.

No one has any real idea where any of these players might end up.  Every big name has the Yankees and Red Sox attached, because their agents put that out in the press with the hope of driving up the price for their players.  Media, bloggers and fans might make guesses based on what they think are a team's needs, but only the GMs (and their owners) know what that organization's philosophy might be.

And GM's generally do not make thier plans known to the media.  They might talk a good game, but the last thing a savvy GM wants to do is let real knowledge slip into the media.

Which brings us, dear readers, to the Washington Nationals.

Dunn tosses helmet after another K. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

The big decision facing GM Mike Rizzo is what to do about first baseman Adam Dunn. 

Dunn's power remains prodigious, but warning signs are starting to slip into his performance if you care to look for them.  He's obviously a fan favorite, but he also has severe limitations.  He's maintained his preference for remaining in D.C., but his representitives know this his last chance at a big payday, long-term deal.  Dunn also wants to stay at first base, but will see more offers from A.L. teams that want him to put his glove away.

The Nats seem willing to play the waiting game with Dunn, because if they really wanted him here, they could have had a deal done much earlier than this point.  Rizzo appears firm that he will not give Dunn a four-year deal, something his agents appear adament about.  If Dunn doesn't see the contract offer he wants, either in length, amount, or from the right team, he could end back up with the Nats in a semi-bargain status.

Rizzo recently went on Sirius/XM Radio and MLB Network Radio and described how he plans to operate the Washington Nationals for the foreseeable future. 
"Our philosophy is pitching, defense, speed and athleticism.  Specifically in the National League and especially in the National League East, so that's a philosophy that we've been working towards with our draft picks and our major league roster and we're going to continue to follow that philosophy throughout."
Where does Adam Dunn fit into that philosophy?

Anyway, after Dunn, there's rampant speculation about the Nats being active in both the free agent and trade markets. I'll believe it when I see it.

Rizzo has stated, on numerous occasions, that his top priority is to acquire a "No. 1-type starter" this off-season. Good luck with that.

The only free agent that fits that bill is Cliff Lee, who has pitched in the World Series the last two years -- for two different teams. He's not coming to D.C. Former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke is not going to waive his no-trade clause to move from Kansas City to the N.L. version of the Royals. Brandon Webb hasn't pitched in two years. Jorge de la Rosa and Matt Garza are not No. 1-type starters on any team other than the Nats.

So, the options there are limited.

As for the recent rumor of Dan Uggla?  Forget about it.  The Nats have spent months talking about getting better on defense.  If they then turn around and bring in Uggla at second base -- or worse, move him to first -- you know it was all a bold-faced lie.

You're perfectly welcome to fill up your winter months tracking MLB Trade Rumors, hanging on every word Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman and Buster Olney tweets. 

Me?  I think I'll wait until there's something real to discuss.


  1. Anonymous // November 16, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

    "Anyway, after Dunn, there's rampant speculation about the Nats being active in both the free agent and trade markets. I'll believe it when I see it."

    So you think all that Rizzo is doing right now is sitting on his ass waiting for Dunn to make up his mind? Highly doubtful. Rizzo is probably quite active. You and the legitimate press are just not in on what he's working - which is as it should be.

    And if Dunn thinks Rizzo is waiting him out, he may be in for a big surprise when someone else gets signed as a FA or traded for and his fallback three year offer from the Nats vanishes into thin air. Hope he enjoys having his only real choices being which AL team to DH for under a two year deal.

  2. Dave Nichols // November 16, 2010 at 2:52 PM  

    Anon: you're misconstruing my words. of course Rizzo is quite busy. whether he has any success is the question.

  3. Anonymous // November 16, 2010 at 5:09 PM  

    "Former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke is not going to waive his no-trade clause to move from Kansas City to the N.L. version of the Royals."
    -->I agree with you but for the record, it's a partial no-trade deal. If for some reason, the Nats are NOT on his list, I have to believe the Nats wouldn't be willing to part with either Espy or Desi, even though I probably would in addition to a top MLB ready pitching prospect(JZ) and another high prospect (Norris).