Nats drawing interest on Storen, Clippard; search for left-handed reliever continues

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Tyler Clippard (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Day 2 of the winter meetings for the Nationals has, so far, brought more of the same kind of work they were doing on Day 1. General Manager Mike Rizzo will be meeting today with more representatives for their left-handed relief targets.

It sounds like J.P. Howell is looking for a bigger contract than the Nationals are willing to give him, and their next preferred candidates are Scott Downs and Boone Logan. Oliver Perez and Eric O’Flaherty are also in the mix, although the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported a few minutes ago that the Braves are deep in talks to re-sign O’Flaherty. The Nationals are not necessarily pushing to land their left-handed reliever at the winter meetings, but it could happen today or tomorrow.

As for their current relievers, the Nationals are receiving a lot of interest on Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, both of whom other clubs view as closers. Clippard, a person familiar with the situation said, has been drawing more interest than Storen despite the fact that he will make about $6 million this season — almost double Storen’s projected salary. The Nationals have Rafael Soriano under contract for another season, so they could part with one.

However, Rizzo “would need to have his socks knocked off” to move either, according to a person familiar with the situation. So while the Nationals have a surplus of backend relievers with closing experience, they are listening more than shopping.

Yesterday, the Cubs let the Nationals know they were interested in discussing Storen and Clippard. Those talks never got off the ground, though, and for now they appear to be dead.

Although Rizzo said yesterday the Nationals feel comfortable with Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon as backup catchers, the Nationals are still sifting through backup catching options. John Buck is one free agent who would take a backup job, but the Nationals have no interest in him.

To reiterate what we’ve written previously: The Nationals are flat-out not trading Denard Span. They view Nate McLouth only as a highly capable fourth outfielder, not as a potential replacement for Span. To the Nationals, Span remains the player they coveted enough to part with Alex Meyer, their best pitching prospect at the time.

Manager Matt Williams is going to meet with the media this afternoon, and we will have his thoughts on the Nationals’ winter so far shortly.

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