By Brian Tinsman

WASHINGTON — With the New Year and MLB Spring Training less than six weeks away, we have officially fired up the Washington Nationals’ version of the hot stove season.

This is the time of year when the Nationals usually schedule a meeting with super agent Scott Boras and kick the tires on some prized free agents who may have slipped through the cracks.

Given the number of premium free agents left on the market, that’s a sizable list in 2018.

One such target is former Cardinals’ pitcher Lance Lynn, who had a run in St. Louis that perfectly overlapped with his former pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.

Last summer, once it became obvious that Lynn was unlikely to return to St. Louis, media honed in on the story of his departure. Lilliquist had some telling quotes about the type of player that Lynn was for him.

“He’s a tough dude,” Lilliquist told FoxSports Midwest. “Every year, it’s the same thing and everybody has to deal with it. You have to go out there and it can’t be a distraction. You have to go out there and make you good.”

Lilliquist ended up in Washington this offseason, and there’s reason to believe that Lynn could eventually do the same.

MLB insider Rosenthal wrote for The Athletic that Lynn “would be more affordable than Boras’ top free-agent starter, right-hander Jake Arrieta,” which might be an understatement.

At one point last Spring, Arrieta was reportedly seeking $200 million. Even if he settles for half of that, as FanGraphs predicts, he would likely land outside of the Nats’ realm of serious consideration.

Meanwhile, Lynn is projected by FanGraphs to land somewhere closer to $50 million over a three-year deal, a much more palatable number for a pitching-strong team like the Nats.

If the Nats do make a move for Lynn, there’s a chance that there could be a corresponding move as well, as they are already up against the luxury cap threshold.

Lynn’s strikeouts per nine innings have dropped nearly every season of his MLB career, giving some concern over the length of a long-term deal. Even so, Lynn’s ERA has not ballooned and he has learned to pitch to the corners instead of battling out over the plate.

If he does end up in Washington, you can expect him to have a good time with MASN dugout reporter Dan Kolko:


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