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Nats could have options with Zimmermann, Fister

Club reportedly willing to listen to offers on righties in order to improve other areas
MLB.com @WashingNats

WASHINGTON -- According to USA Today, the Nationals have told opposing teams they would listen to possible deals involving right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. Fister and Zimmermann are free agents after the 2015 season and general manager Mike Rizzo would like to sign them long term. Fister and Zimmermann were two of the Nationals' best pitchers this past season.

Although he missed the first month of the season because of a lat strain, Fister still led the team in victories and finished eighth in the National League Cy Young Award voting. The game goes fast whenever Fister is on the mound. He is not a power pitcher by any means, but he throws strikes and keeps the hitters off-balance.

WASHINGTON -- According to USA Today, the Nationals have told opposing teams they would listen to possible deals involving right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. Fister and Zimmermann are free agents after the 2015 season and general manager Mike Rizzo would like to sign them long term. Fister and Zimmermann were two of the Nationals' best pitchers this past season.

Although he missed the first month of the season because of a lat strain, Fister still led the team in victories and finished eighth in the National League Cy Young Award voting. The game goes fast whenever Fister is on the mound. He is not a power pitcher by any means, but he throws strikes and keeps the hitters off-balance.

Teammate Stephen Strasburg may have the best stuff in the organization, but Zimmermann is the ace of the staff. Look at what Zimmermann has done the last three years: 45 wins, a 2.96 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.

And that's before you mention the fact that he has pitched the team's first no-hitter and has held his own in the postseason. One wonders if he would have won Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Giants if manager Matt Williams had kept him in the game. If Homer Bailey received six years and $105 million, it's worth wondering how much Zimmermann might make.

At the same time, Rizzo knows how to put a team together. He rarely makes a mistake on a trade or free-agent signing. If he does trade Fister or Zimmermann, one can assume Rizzo will ask for a king's ransom in return.

Video: MIA@WSH: Fister dominates in three-hit shutout win

Based on his history with the Nationals since he became GM in 2009, Rizzo would probably want a mix of young players to replenish the farm system and players who have been in the Majors for a while. It's hard to argue with Rizzo's success when it comes to making trades.

Nobody is complaining about Denard Span, whom Rizzo acquired from the Twins for prospect Alex Meyer after the 2010 season. Span is arguably the best center fielder in Nationals history.

The Nationals desperately needed a backup catcher before the start of the 2014 season, so Rizzo acquired Jose Lobaton from the Rays for right-hander Nate Karns. Lobaton ended up having a great rapport with Fister and Strasburg. To top it off, Rizzo was able to get two prospects -- pitcher Felipe Rivero and outfielder Drew Vettleson -- in the deal.

Acquiring Gio Gonzalez wasn't too bad, either. Rizzo traded four prospects to get the left-hander from the Athletics, and Derek Norris is the only one who is still with Oakland. One of those players -- right-hander A.J. Cole -- is back with the Nationals and is considered the second-best prospect in the organization. Rizzo was able to get him back after trading outfielder Michael Morse to Seattle in a three-way deal with Oakland.

If Zimmermann or Fister is traded, Cole and right-hander Blake Treinen are candidates to be in the rotation. Cole, who was added to the Nationals' 40-man roster Thursday, had arguably his best season in professional baseball in '14, going a combined 13-3 with a 3.16 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. He pitched 134 innings and struck out 111 batters.

Treinen was often used as an emergency starter and did well, posting a respectable 3.00 ERA in seven starts. However, there are some in the organization who feel that Treinen could be a closer. It will be interesting to see what his role will be in 2015.

Rizzo knows what he needs in order for the Nationals -- who most likely will again be the favorites in the NL East -- to be World Series contenders next year. They need a second baseman. It's doubtful Asdrubal Cabrera will be back in Washington, and the team is thinking about making Danny Espinosa a right-handed hitter exclusively.

Maybe Rizzo could trade for Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who will be in the last year of his contract. He can drive in runs, has occasional power and is an above-average second baseman.

The Nationals also need to improve their bench and maybe add a couple of relievers, but it's doubtful Fister or Zimmermann will be traded for that.

It's going to be an interesting offseason, indeed.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Washington Nationals, Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann