WASHINGTON — Just like buying a lottery ticket, MLB’s Winter Meetings provide fans with an opportunity to imagine what could happen if _____. For example, what would happen if the Washington Nationals assembled an NBA-style big three in their starting rotation?
What if the Nationals added Jake Arrieta to the mix?
According to widespread reports, super-agent Scott Boras printed out a 75-page book on Arrieta for each of the owners at the meeting. He is also reportedly seeking $200 million for his client.
The former bust-turned-ace hits free agency for the first time since winning the 2015 NL Cy Young award. Even though the Nationals have committed a combined $385 million to Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, Washington is still rumored to be interested in adding Arrieta:
How serious the Nats are in their pursuit, however, is another story.
Reports range of “tepid” to “serious,” depending who you ask. Baseball insider Mark Feinsand confirmed the rumor without offering any details of interest:
The most bullish of the bunch is MLB insider Jon Heyman, who is long noted to have an open line of communication with Boras:
Somewhere in the middle is Jerry Crasnick, who could just have a more realistic take on Heyman’s same information:
Crasnick is right: just because starting pitching is an area of strength does not mean that the Nats won’t add to it. Arrieta would almost certainly make the team better and increase the odds of surviving a playoff series. Maybe Boras will succeed?
Nats beat reporter Chelsea Janes seems to have the most sobering take on the rumors. Her tweets seem to best reflect the perspective of the organization, as opposed to being fed information from the player or agent:
In case you’re curious what general manager Mike Rizzo has to say on the topic, it’s not much. Speaking to the media today, he confirmed that he was aware that Arrieta was a free agent. That’s about it.
“We’re just in the information-gathering stage right now,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He’s a great pitcher, but we’re nowhere close to doing anything.”
It was that kind of day for Rizzo, who is trying not to tip his team’s hand or yield the upper hand in negotiations. Instead, he acknowledged that the team could add pitching through free agency or a trade, as long as it made the Nats better.
“We’re open to both,” Rizzo said. “I think we’re going to find the best avenue for us and what gives us the most value in any type of deal. The thing with free agency is it doesn’t cost you any prospects, but the trade market is sometimes more beneficial.”