The Nationals and Adam LaRoche continue to talk, but how close they are is hard to tell. If there really is a Christmas deadline then we should see something go down in the next few days. It is, though, a self-imposed deadline at the end of the day.
In their search for a left-handed reliever, J.P. Howell is still out there and mutual interest is said to exist. But right now, half-way through the offseason, Howell is the best lefty reliever still available on the free agent market. He’s also just 29 and probably wants a multi-year deal.
Earlier this week it was reported that five teams are looking into Howell and that could drive the price up. If Howell’s demands are too high, the Nats’ need for a lefties in the bullpen could be solved whenever the first base situation is settled via trade.
Another lefty possibility is Mike Gonzalez who had a comeback year of sorts in Washington in 2013, but the Reds are also interested. This was reported by Jim Bowden who knows both organizations very well.
The Phils may be looking to add a familiar face in Raul Ibanez, a member of their team from 2009-11. They are the only National League team being linked to the 40-year-old so it would seem like an outside possibility he signs with his former team. Ibanez is probably best served as a designated hitter at this point in his career.
Earlier this week the Phillies signed reliever Mike Adams, one of the top relievers in this year’s free agent class. Add him to Ben Revere, Michael Young, and John Lannan and the Phillies have quietly made improvements all around their roster. Bullpen was a big weakness for Philly all last season, maybe Adams can help.
Nats nemesis Scott Hairston may have priced himself out of a return to the Mets, but that doesn’t mean he’s leaving the N.L. East. The Braves are reportedly in on the outfielder and could sign him if his price doesn’t go up. The Yankees are said to be high on Hairston and could win his services.
The Braves are also still in search of a leadoff hitter after signing B.J. Upton to replace Michael Bourn. That may be a tough challenge as most of the best free agent outfielders have found new homes. Their best bet is probably a trade.
The Marlins have been quiet since trading just about all of their starters to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the offseason. They did make a move earlier this week in signing Placido Polanco, a 37 year old infielder who last played for the Phillies.
Overall the Marlins have been quiet in recent weeks, they will probably sign a few more veterans to fill out their 2013 lineup. Pitching depth and infielders are likely targets.
New York Mets
The Mets are still looking for starting pitchers and, according to Newsday, have interest in lefty Joe Saunders. Saunders split time with the Orioles and Diamondbacks in 2012 and finished 9-13 with a 4.07 ERA.
New York is also exploring trades and have discussed Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang with the Dodgers. The Dodgers have a surplus in starting pitching and the Mets need to fill out their rotation.