Nationals winter meeting notes on the bench, rotation and bullpen

The Marlins continue to win the winter meetings. Following their signing of Jose Reyes, they have reportedly offered Albert Pujols a t10-year contract. The buzz here is that a deal could be finalized, with either the Cardinals or Marlins, rather soon.

The Marlins have pretty much owned the Nationals in recent years – and now imagine a lineup that begins with Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Mike Stanton. Gracious.

As that story line dominates the meetings, here are a few couple Nationals nuggets:

The Nationals are trying to virtually overhaul their entire bench. They have already lost Laynce Nix, and Jonny Gomes, Rick Ankiel, Ivan Rodriguez and Alex Cora are all free agents. After the Nationals lost Nix to the Phillies following a strong push to re-sign him, it seemed possible they would turn their attention to Ankiel.

One Nationals person, though, called re-signing Ankiel only “an outside possibility.” They consider him an option, but Ankiel, a popular figure in the Nationals’ clubhouse and perhaps the best outfield arm in baseball, may find more of an opportunity with another team.

As noted yesterday, the Nationals have had discussions with 36-year-old utility player Mark DeRosa. More bench candidates could become available next week after Monday’s non-tender deadline, but the Nationals will “not necessarily” wait on that to fill their bench, the Nats person said.

At catcher, it seems increasingly clear the Nationals will not bring back Rodriguez. With Jesus Flores in the fold and Jhonatan Solano on the 40-man roster, they don’t need a backup for Wilson Ramos. And Rodriguez may want a situation where he could more frequently, with an eye on reaching 3,000 hits.

— As the Nationals push to sign Mark Buehrle, Davey Johnson offered a counter idea: The Nationals would be fine if they went into spring training as is, with a projected rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and either Ross Detwiler or Brad Peacock.

“You know, I really like my staff,” Johnson said. “I like it as it is right now. Any time you can improve, go for it. I haven’t been pushing in that direction.”

The Nationals seem pretty much set in their bullpen, with Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Henry Rodriguez, Sean Burnett and Ryan Mattheus under team control for next year. Johnson likes the idea of having two long relievers, and he said he could envision Yunesky Maya filling one of those spots.

Also, Todd Coffey has reportedly been drawing interest from the Mets and the Brewers, where he played before signing a one-year deal with the Nationals last year.

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.

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