Nats head home early from Winter Meetings

Nats head home early from Winter Meetings
December 5, 2012, 4:30 pm
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Nats brass leaving winter meeting early?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Having already addressed two major needs and sensing there was nothing left to accomplish here, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson left the Winter Meetings this afternoon, one day before the event officially concludes.

General managers typically stay at the meetings through the Thursday morning Rule 5 draft, but the Nationals aren't expected to select any players and don't really have any available roster space for an unproven project like that anyway.

Rizzo apparently also felt there weren't any more discussions with agents or other clubs that needed to be done in person, so he departed the Gaylord Opryland today and headed back to Washington.

"You know, we didn't have a whole big wish list," Johnson said before departing for his home outside Orlando. "I didn't have a whole big wish list, and Dan Haren's a really great pickup. Of course we got Denard Span before. I think he's a quality player also.

"Other than our first base situation, I think the only area we needed a little depth was our starting pitching. We need that, we'll have that with a couple guys we'll have in Syracuse. I like our infield depth. I like the way our outfield depth's coming together. I like where we're going."

The Nationals acquired Span from the Twins last week, addressing their longstanding need for a leadoff hitter and center fielder. They came to terms with Haren Tuesday morning on a one-year, $13 million contract, the final piece to their starting rotation.

Haren, a California native, is scheduled to fly to Washington tonight and undergo a physical tomorrow, the results of which will determine whether his deal becomes official.

The only questions the Nationals still face are at first base (whether they re-sign Adam LaRoche or shift Michael Morse from left field) and in the bullpen (whether they're able to sign a left-hander to replace free agent Sean Burnett).

The status of negotiations with LaRoche haven't changed during the Winter Meetings. He's still seeking a three-year contract; the Nationals won't offer more than two years.

Johnson continues to believe the veteran first baseman will sign a deal to return to Washington.

"I think so. I won't really sleep real comfortable until he does," the manager said. "I hope that gets worked out. Everybody knows each other. I think everybody has a lot of comfort zone, not just on the field but in the clubhouse and off the field.

"I had him at my golf tournament and I told him: 'You don't want to go somewhere and be miserable.' You know you're going to have a good time in D.C., and I won't platoon you. We'll see. I don't know if there's a deadline, but that'd be a nice Christmas present. That would put the icing on the cake."