The Nats want Lackey, but why would he want them?

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Last year the Washington Nationals were in on Mark Teixeira. No one figured they’d get him, but because the guy is from the mid-Atlantic area, there was at least a reason not to openly guffaw at their courtship of the guy. He could have gotten homesick. There was at least a non-zero chance that he’d be interested, even if was a chance that was only microscopically above zero.

But John Lackey?  MLB.com’s Bill Ladson says that the Nats are interested, the idea being that a guy like Lackey could anchor the staff and serve as a mentor to Stephen Strasburg and the other young Nats’ pitchers. Here’s Mike Rizzo’s explanation of how the Nationals can convince a guy like Lackey to come to what has been futility central for the past few years:

You
have to show the veteran pitcher what the plan is, our plan for
success, how we are built to perform at this level at this given time . . . We think with the additions of an Adam Dunn, a Josh Willingham and
Nyjer Morgan, it’s going to attract some veteran players. These guys
know what we are doing here. It’s all over the league where we are at
and what we are trying to do. I think they can see this is the
beginning of a good, exciting ballclub.

If I’m John Lackey’s agent and they trot out Adam Dunn I say “John, you sign there and you’ll have the absolute worst defensive player in baseball in left or at first.”  If they trot out Josh Willingham I say “John, they were openly shopping him last week, so even if he floats your boat, don’t count on him.” If they trot out Nyjer Morgan I’d say “Man, those socks look good, don’t they?  Morgan is sharp. No reason to turn down the Yankees and Red Sox, but he is sharp.”

I agree that brighter days are in the Nats’ future, but there’s zero chance Lackey will buy what Mike Rizzo is selling. There’s nothing in his history or public statements that suggests he’d be interested in assuming some Obi-Wan role on a team like the Nats. This is probably his last shot at a big free agent deal, and he’s going to use it to land somewhere that provides him both money and a guarantee of winning, and Washington ain’t that place.   

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.