12/09/09 10:45 PM EST
Nats searching for arms, backup infielder
No deals imminent, but Rizzo plugging away in Indianapolis
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
The agenda for Washington hasn't changed: Get quality pitching for the rotation and bullpen and acquire a backup infielder.
"No big news to tell today," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We are working on a lot of things. We are meeting with a lot of clubs, meeting with a lot of agents. We are trying to hammer out some things and lay foundations. We are trying to do things for the future.
"I'm not going to put a timetable on it. I would not characterize anything as imminent, nor do I feel it is important to get [things] done by the end of the Winter Meetings."
Rizzo acknowledged that Washington still has interest in right-hander Livan Hernandez, the team's own free agent, and right-hander Jason Marquis.
Hernandez was signed by the Nationals in late August. His job was to be an innings eater. In eight starts, Hernandez was 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA.
"We still have some interest in Livan," said Rizzo. "He is a guy that we have always liked. He is on the list of several pitchers we still have interest in."
Marquis, who made $9.8 million this past season, is a right-hander who has won 94 games during his 10 seasons in the big leagues with the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs and Rockies. This past season, Marquis went 15-13 with a 4.04 ERA for Colorado.
Marquis also has a connection to team president Stan Kasten. Marquis was drafted by Atlanta in the 1996 First-Year Player Draft, when Kasten had the same role with the Braves. Reports have also surfaced that Marquis would like to be close to New York and is hoping to sign with Mets.
It was revealed on Tuesday that the Nationals also have interest in Jon Garland, Joel Pineiro, Vicente Padilla, John Smoltz and Jarrod Washburn.
With left-hander Randy Wolf signing a three-year, $29.75 million deal with the Brewers and right-hander Rich Harden getting a one-year deal worth $7.5 million from the Rangers, Rizzo was asked if free-agent pitchers were getting too much money.
"Each pitcher is an individual situation," Rizzo said. "There is a value placed on each individual pitcher. If you sign a player for what you deem his value is, I think it's a fair and equitable deal."
The Nationals are looking for an infielder, most likely a backup second baseman to help the team defensively. As of right now, Cristian Guzman is expected to be the starting second baseman, a position he has never played.
"There are certainly more second baseman of interest than there are shortstops of interest," Rizzo said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.