The Washington Nationals are in a peculiar spot. Following a disappointing season that saw them miss the playoffs, the Nationals are now facing the proposition of losing star outfielder Bryce Harper to free agency. It would stand to reason the Nationals are in a holding pattern until Harper re-signs or indicates he's headed elsewhere -- but that doesn't appear to be the case.
Rather, the Nationals have reportedly been in touch with all the top free-agent starting pitchers, including southpaw Patrick Corbin, with whom they have already met:
As part of his meet-and-greet tour with teams, Patrick Corbin met with the Washington Nationals.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 28, 2018
The Nationals' interest in adding another starter makes sense. For as good as Max Scherzer is, he's getting up there (he'll turn 35 next July) and figures to slow down at some point. Stephen Strasburg gives the Nats another above-average starter, but he's dealt with durability issues throughout his career. Were the season to begin next week, the Nationals would likely fill out their rotation with Tanner Roark (himself a year away from the open market), Erick Fedde (an unproven youngster, and Joe Ross or Henderson Alvarez (both having dealt with arm troubles in recent years).
If there is a surprising element here, it's that the Nationals are aiming for the top of the market. Last month, there were rumors about them facing budgetary restraints. Either the extent of that hurdle was overstated, or Mike Rizzo has found a way over it by filling a few holes with a series of small acquisitions to begin the winter. Rizzo has added Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal to his bullpen, and has signed Kurt Suzuki to take over behind the plate. Should the Nationals deem Howie Kendrick fit enough to start at second, then it's fair to write they've addressed most of their glaring needs less than a month into the winter.
Perhaps, then, Rizzo's interest in the market's top arms should've been predicted. It's either that or sit around waiting on Harper -- and Rizzo doesn't seem like the type who likes idle time.