LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Nationals made their move late in the Winter Meetings, but they will head back to Washington having crossed one item off their offseason checklist.In the opening hours of Thursday morning, the Nats agreed to a two-year deal with right-hander Brandon Kintzler, a source told MLB.com,
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Nationals made their move late in the Winter Meetings, but they will head back to Washington having crossed one item off their offseason checklist.
In the opening hours of Thursday morning, the Nats agreed to a two-year deal with right-hander Brandon Kintzler, a source told MLB.com, bringing back the third member of their strong bullpen trio. The club has not confirmed the deal.
It was the first move for the Nationals this offseason, which they have said will be spent fine-tuning a roster that should return mostly intact for 2018 after back-to-back postseason appearances. But the work is not done for general manager Mike Rizzo as he continues trying to build a team that will be prepared to take the next step in the playoffs.
Rizzo's checklist began with right-handed relievers, and it is unclear if bringing back Kintzler will be his only bullpen move. The Nats seem set with late-inning relievers now that Kintzler can rejoin Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, but perhaps the team could still search for a few arms to add even more depth to its 'pen. The Nationals are more likely to offer a few players Spring Training invites and have them compete for spots on the roster.
Washington is still searching for a fifth starter and would like to add to the depth of its rotation. Whether Rizzo plans to do that by adding to the front or back end of the staff remains to be seen. The Nats also need to build a bench, but those sorts of players tend to sign later in the offseason. Still, Rizzo has maintained that he sees this offseason as a time to make minor tweaks to a set team as opposed to any major roster overhauls.
Another key development to keep an eye on from this week was that the team met with Bryce Harper's agent, Scott Boras, to begin preliminary discussions about Harper's future. Whether those talks progress toward an extension remains to be seen, but they are at least beginning while the Nationals have exclusive rights to negotiate with Harper before another team can enter the mix.
Rule 5 Draft
The Nationals did not select or lose anyone during the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. In the Minor League portion, however, they selected second baseman Jacob Wilson, who was in Double-A for the Cardinals' organization, in the first round and Kaleb Fleck, who was in the D-backs' system, in the second round. Washington also lost left-hander Robert Orlan to the Indians' organization in the first round.
GM's bottom line
One of Rizzo's favorite buzzwords is value. Relief pitchers have been signing expensive contracts during the past few days, but the Nats got Kintzler at a slightly lower price and one they were comfortable with. So as the offseason continues for Washington, Rizzo will almost certainly continue to hunt for value -- players he believes he can bring on in a low-risk situation or find more below-market deals in terms of cost or prospects. And if an opportunity arises where Rizzo has the chance to add a player he believes will improve the club, he's likely to jump in.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.