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MLB Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals Should Focus On Boone Logan and J.P. Howell

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals took care of the opening in their starting staff by acquiring 6-foot-8 starter Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. So, what’s next on the mind of GM Mike Rizzo?

Well, all indications are that Washington wants to sign a lefty relief specialist, and they are looking at J.P. Howell and Boone Logan. They expect to have a deal done with one of the two southpaws before they leave Orlando’s Winter Meetings next week.

Howell was very good last year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, appearing in 67 games, tossing 62 innings of relief and giving up only 23 walks while striking out 54 hitters. He was extremely consistent and effective, finishing the season with a 2.03 ERA. He was even better in the Dodgers’ postseason, logging an impressive 1.50 ERA.

Meanwhile, Logan was pitching for the New York Yankees, where he has spent the past four seasons as the team’s situational left-hander, tossing 176 innings in 256 appearances, and striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings with a 3.38 ERA. In 2013, he missed nearly the entire final month with an elbow injury and had surgery to remove a bone chip in October, but is expected to be fully healthy in time for spring training.

He is 29 and is seeking a multi-year deal, and the Nationals are willing to talk about a two- or three-year deal if the money and terms are right.

It is clear heading into the Winter Meetings next week in Orlando that the Nationals want to leave Disney World with either Howell or Logan under contract. Also, look for the team to begin to add bench players, as some could be signed in Orlando. They currently have Scott Hairston, Tyler Moore and Corey Brown on the bench. However, they will be looking at quality vets who are on the open market and can fill the bill as utility players with some pop in their bats.

It will be a busy time for the Nationals in Orlando next week as they continue to build for a World Series run in 2014 and beyond.