The Nationals asked the Dbacks about Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson

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MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports that the Nats, despite the fact that they’re sinking like a stone in the NL East, have inquired about the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson. A lot of time in the article is spent wondering if this means the Nats are buyers or sellers (in light of the Adam Dunn rumors) and asking just what the hell are they’re doing. So what are they doing?

Seems to me that being interested in either Jackson or Haren isn’t a matter of buying or selling as we usually discuss it in the “what does it mean for the current season” sense of the term. Just seems like a way to build for the future. Haren is signed through 2012 with a club option for 2013.  Jackson is signed through the end of 2011.  In short, picking up either of these guys would be a play for 2011 and possibly beyond, not a play for some quixotic stab at getting back in the wild card race.

Sure, getting either of these guys would be an expensive way to build, but the Nats efforts to make such a move in the offseason (see, Marquis, Jason) didn’t work out so well, so why not treat this summer as a defacto free agent season, give the Dbacks the salary relief they want and maybe a prospect or two, and acquire a respectable arm to accompany Mr. Strasburg for the next couple of seasons?

If the team is willing to spend some money now — and it seems that they are — making such a move now seems a better bet than getting involved in the great musical chairs game they always seem to lose during the hot stove season.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.