What the Nationals are looking for
Already at the winter meetings, the Nationals are being perceived as major players in trade talks. (No, that doesn't mean they're in on this guy.) If you have a catcher, a middle infielder, a reasonably dependable bullpen arm or especially a starting pitcher available to trade, chances are the Nationals are looking to talk to you.
A picture is also emerging about what the Nationals are seeking from other teams. In a nutshell: young, controllable (in a contractual sense) players who aren't making a fortune -- especially starting pitchers. The Nationals are less interested, for example, in a veteran starter such as Atlanta's Javier Vazquez, to name someone linked to them, because Vazquez has only one year left on his contract (at $11.5 million). If the Braves indeed have strong interest in left fielder Josh Willingham, the Nationals might want to steer the discussions toward right-hander Kenshin Kawakami, who is signed for two more years at $6.67 million each year. (Jair Jurrjens, presumably, is off-limits.)
One other quick note:
*John Smoltz's agent, Keith Grunewald, told me Smoltz is taking his time with his decision on where to sign this winter but that Smoltz's interest in the Nationals is legitimate.
"As you know, John has a long relationship with [Nationals' president] Stan Kasten, and [Smoltz] thinks the team has a strong future. But I think he's going to be very deliberate about this process. Nothing is imminent. John wants to see how his body is feeling. He's already decided he wants to play. But he wants to get a sense of what he can physically do: 'Can I start? Can I relieve?'"
Grunewald said Smoltz, 42, has "a lot" of suitors, but acknowledged that much of the talk thus far has involved teams feeling him out to see what his plans are for 2010. Grunewald also said Smoltz is "a competitive guy," and prefers to go somewhere with a chance to win in 2010.
December 7, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
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