Craig Kimbrel
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Report: Nationals interested in Craig Kimbrel


A few weeks ago, Jim Bowden of The Athletic reported that free agent closer Craig Kimbrel was still seeking a deal in the six-year, $100+ million range. While Kimbrel hasn’t drawn widespread interest this offseason, perhaps due in part to his asking price, those terms don’t appear to have put off the Nationals. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the club has maintained their interest in the closer and may yet prove willing to hand out the kind of long-term deal he’s after.

Last year, the 30-year-old right-hander saw his numbers start to regress from the career-high totals he set in 2017. That’s not to say he was awful: Despite some lingering control issues, he registered 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, and 13.9 SO/9 through 62 1/3 innings and tacked on another six saves (albeit with a 5.91 ERA) in the postseason.

That kind of talent comes at a premium, especially for the Nationals. As Rosenthal points out, the club is positioned a mere $4.5 million below the $206 million luxury tax threshold and would be required to pay a significant penalty if they tack on the kind of deal Kimbrel is seeking. Given their luxury tax concerns and Kimbrel’s rejection of the Red Sox’ one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer last fall, the club is likely to forfeit their third and sixth-round draft picks should they reach an arrangement with the closer — not an unreasonable trade-off for the seven-time All-Star’s services.

As for the competition for Kimbrel, both the Phillies and Braves have been linked to the righty over the last week. Neither team appears inclined to make a long-term offer, though, which could give the Nationals the edge in negotiations as they approach Opening Day.

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.