LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Day 2 of the Winter Meetings gets underway, here are some Tuesday morning goodies to munch on with your breakfast...
-- If the Nationals truly are serious about making their second gargantuan splash of the offseason by signing Cliff Lee, they may need only to inform the left-hander they're willing to give him a seven-year contract. Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported last night that at least one big-league club is willing to offer Lee a seven-year deal. And the Yankees, he reported, are not that club. This may all just be posturing on the part of agent Darek Braunecker, who told reporters yesterday that the Nationals are by no means out of the running for Lee. It's entirely possible Braunecker is using the Nats as leverage to try to convince the Yankees, Rangers or someone else to up the ante. But as we saw on Sunday with Jayson Werth, the notion of the Nationals blowing the rest of the competition out of the water with a massive contract offer is not out of the question. Does that mean there's a realistic chance Lee ends up in D.C.? I still don't think so. But if the Nats want to find out for sure whether the best pitcher on the market is willing to join them, they may need merely to make the kind of outrageous offer that already landed Werth this week.
-- That said, I still believe the Nationals' best hope of acquiring a front-line starting pitcher is via trade. It would cost a bundle (multiple players from a variety of positions) but Mike Rizzo suggested yesterday he's got the kind of pieces at his disposal necessary to make that kind of a deal. "I think we have a terrific up-and-coming farm system," the GM said. "We've got what a lot of teams treasure. We've got young, major-league caliber players already in the big leagues up the middle of the field. So yeah, we have a lot to offer teams, depending on how much and who it is. That's the determining factor. Do you improve yourself by making this trade for a front-of-the-rotation guy? What's the term of the contract? How much money are you taking out? How many prospects do you have to give up for it? Those are the questions that go into this decision. And those are some of the discussions we're having, internally and with other teams."
-- Several of you noted that in discussing the effect Werth's addition will have on the Nationals' outfield, both Rizzo and Jim Riggleman essentially said Nyjer Morgan is their center fielder. That doesn't mean they're just handing Morgan the job, and certainly they're looking for some significant improvements from him. Asked what specifically he wants to see from Morgan next year, Riggleman replied: "I think that, basically, the thing we want Nyjer to do is get on base, a little higher rate, and to be there to be knocked in. The game is full of statistics, and there's so many numbers out there. But when it comes to offense, you're either knocking them in or you're scoring. The rest of it is a little bit of eyewash. We want Nyjer to score. And to score, he's got to be on base. We know he can do it. He's shown he can do it. We just hope that he's getting on base at a little higher clip, and that's going to mean a little improvement against left-handed pitching, basically."
-- Riggleman saw Bryce Harper play some in the Florida instructional league and emerged with nothing but positive vibes out of the 18-year-old. Because Harper signed a major-league contract, he'll be in big-league camp two months from now. And Riggleman said he won't hesitate to get Harper into Grapefruit League games. "He'll get a lot of attention, I'm sure, just as Stephen Strasburg did last year," the manager said. "But he'll be in big-league camp and get some at-bats. If the at-bats look like they are starting to get too infrequent, we will get him down to minor-league camp where he's playing every day."
-- If you'd like to watch some video segments I recorded yesterday for CSNwashington.com, including a one-on-one interview with Riggleman, you can find them on this page. Scroll down to the bottom and you should find two segments. And for another segment that I filmed with CSNphilly.com's Jim Salisbury, check out this page and again scroll down to the bottom.
-- Plenty more to come from Day 2 at the Winter Meetings.