Would you believe the Nationals “are a potential sleeper team” for Cliff Lee?

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Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes that the Nationals “are a potential sleeper team in the competition to land” Cliff Lee, quoting “one baseball insider” as saying: “They’re going to step up and try to get a top free agent. They’d like to make a splash.”

Perhaps, but the odds of the top free agent on the market choosing a team that has lost 298 games in the past three seasons seems pretty slim unless the Nationals offer significantly more years and/or money than everyone else. And what are the chances of the Nationals out-bidding the Yankees for Lee?

Crasnick notes that “if the Nationals fail to land Lee”–and I’d change the wording from “if” to “when”–they’ll likely turn their attention the trade market, perhaps going after one of the Rays’ starters like Matt Garza or James Shields. That’s a whole lot more plausible, and Shields in particular has already been linked to a few teams as a possible trade target.

Padres sign Jordan Lyles

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The Padres announced on Sunday that the club signed pitcher Jordan Lyles to a one-year major league contract with a club option for 2019. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Lyles will earn $750,000 in 2018. Pitcher Travis Wood was designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Lyles.

Lyles, 27, had miserable results between the Rockies and Padres last season, compiling an aggregate 7.75 ERA with a 55/22 K/BB ratio over 69 2/3 innings. While he specifically gave up 24 earned runs in 23 innings across five starts with the Padres, it was a small sample. A full season at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, as opposed to Colorado’s Coors Field, might help revitalize his career.

Wood, 30, went to the Padres at the non-waiver trade deadline from the Royals this past season. Overall, the lefty posted an aggregate 6.80 ERA with a 65/45 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. He’ll earn $6.5 million this season and has an $8 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout for 2019. So, the Padres are just eating $7.5 million minus the league minimum, assuming Wood latches on elsewhere.