12/2/2013 2:57 P.M. ET
Inbox: Could Nats make a play for Cano?
Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson responds to fans' questions
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
I've heard about so many big-market teams being out of the Robinson Cano sweepstakes. What about the Nats? They did swing a shocker of a deal in Jayson Werth, and Cano could be the signing that brings the World Series trophy back to the beltway.
-- Brian J., New York
It would not surprise me if the Nationals are in the Cano sweepstakes. The team has the financial wherewithal to sign him, and he would be an upgrade compared to what the Nats had last year.
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In my interview with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, I didn't hear a commitment to any of the second basemen the team currently has on the 40-man roster. I don't see Danny Espinosa nor Steve Lombardozzi as everyday players for the Nationals. Espinosa is coming off his worst season, and then-manager Davey Johnson had a chance to make Lombardozzi an everyday second baseman last year, but it never occurred.
It also didn't sound like Rizzo was committed to Anthony Rendon at second base. Here is what Rizzo said about Rendon when I asked him if he was the team's regular second baseman: "I can tell you he will be a National. In November, I don't know where he is going to play or what he is going to do. He is an extremely talented player that took very well to second base last season for the first time since he was in high school. He is an accomplished hitter that has a great upside. He can play many positions and came up as a third baseman throughout his collegiate career, and in terms of his Minor League career. He has a high ceiling as a Major Leaguer."
I would not be surprised if Rendon was used as trade bait if the Nationals want to acquire a starting pitcher.
Do the Nats have any interest in a guy like Raul Ibanez to fill the fourth outfielder/power-left-handed-bat-off-the-bench role? He's over 40, but a veteran with outstanding work ethic. His 2013 season's numbers suggest that it might be worthwhile to take a gamble on him for one year, if he's willing to accept a reasonable salary and less playing time. Your thoughts?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I'm sure Werth would love it, for they were teammates when both were with the Phillies in 2009 and '10. In the last two years, Ibanez averaged 400-plus at-bats primarily because he was a designated hitter. Considering Washington's current lineup in the outfield -- Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Werth -- it seems to me he would not get a lot of playing time. Besides, the Nationals want that fourth outfielder to be able to play center field as well, and Ibanez hasn't played that position since the early 2000s. So he would appear to be not in the picture.
With the way that Ryan Mattheus hurt his hand last year and then struggled mightily after being activated from the disabled list, is he in the Nats' bullpen plans for 2014?
-- Derek C., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I can't say it's a guarantee that Mattheus will be in the bullpen next year. After the year he had, he has a lot to prove to manager Matt Williams. I think he will do well and be one of the middle relievers for the Nationals.
Just wondering, do you think No. 2 prospect Lucas Giolito will get an invitation to Spring Training with the big club?
-- Chris H., Manassas, Va.
As of now, no. I expect him to be on the Minor League side for most of Spring Training. However, it would not surprise me if he was allowed to pitch in a Major League exhibition game or two.
After reading all these trade rumors, I feel like the Nationals are going to make a huge move this offseason. Do you feel it would come as a bat or as a pitcher?
-- Archit M., Arlington, Va.
It could be both. We know they want an ace pitcher -- David Price or Max Scherzer -- to add to the rotation, and I already said in this Inbox that I believe that they are in the Cano sweepstakes. When it comes to the Nationals, anything can happen.
Why not bring back Michael Morse for the extra power on the bench and replacement for Adam LaRoche from time to time?
-- Kenneth D., King George, Va.
There are a lot of Nationals fans who would like to see Morse back with the team, but I don't see it happening unless he is willing to be a bench player, which he was good at during his first two seasons in Washington. He wants to be an everyday player, however.
With Stephen Drew being a Scott Boras client, could you see the Nationals signing him, having him or Ian Desmond transition to second base? It could solidify the middle infield with veteran stability, couldn't it?
-- Alan L., Los Angeles
Rizzo is a fan of Drew's, for Rizzo and the D-backs drafted Drew in 2004, when Rizzo served as Arizona's director of scouting. But I don't see Drew as a member of the Nationals. Desmond will be at shortstop for years to come. Would Drew consider being a second baseman? I doubt it.