Glavine and Hernandez show interest
Club says it could only sign one of two veteran pitchers for '08
WASHINGTON -- While Jim Bowden is looking to improve the Nationals at the GM meetings in Orlando, MLB.com has learned that left-hander Tom Glavine and right-hander Livan Hernandez have interest in joining the Nationals and the feelings are mutual, according to a baseball source familiar with Washington's situation.
The same source said, "We can only sign one of them." Washington is looking for a veteran starter, who could teach pitchers such as Shawn Hill, Matt Chico and Jason Bergmann how to win on a consistent basis.
Glavine, who declined a player option with the Mets, announced last week that he plans to pitch in his 22nd season in the big leagues. There have been published reports that Glavine wants to go back to the Braves, but his agent, Gregg Clifton, said on Monday that the Nationals are in the mix to acquire Glavine's services. Clifton also said that the left-hander has not finalized his first choice in terms of teams.
Clifton pointed out that Glavine has a close relationship with Nationals team president Stan Kasten, dating back to their days with the Braves and knows manager Manny Acta during their days with the Mets.
"[Glavine] is in the situation where he is trying to evaluate his options and trying to find out which option makes the most sense to him," Clifton said.
Clifton said that Glavine has a history of being a leader for the young pitching staff.
"No. 1, he leads by example [in terms of] his mental and physical preparation in every start," Clifton said. "Obviously, he is a guy who enjoys the mentoring role. He has grown into it the last few years, especially in New York, with a lot of young pitchers on that staff."
Last year, Glavine went 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA with the Mets.
As for Hernandez, he is familiar with the Nationals, having played for the organization for three-plus seasons. He was the ace during those years, winning 50 games for Washington/Montreal. He spent the 2007 season with the Diamondbacks, going 11-11 with a 4.93 ERA. The Nationals traded him to Arizona on Aug. 7, 2006 for Chico and right-hander Garrett Mock.
Hernandez said he would love to return to Washington, but the team has to make the right offer.
"I like D.C., too," he said. "I'm going to see what's the best choice for me. I have to wait and see what happens. Every time I go back and play in Washington, the fans are great. It's amazing. I have a lot of memories there. I pitched the first game for the Nationals. It's a great city and they have real baseball fans.
In other news, while the Nationals have inquired about free agent center fielders Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand, a baseball source said the Nationals are keeping their eyes on Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli in a possible trade scenario. Bowden has always like Baldelli's makeup, but the center fielder has played in a combined 127 games the last two seasons because of injuries.
Baldelli's best season was in 2003 when he hit .289 with 11 home runs and 78 RBIs. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting that year.
Jose Cardenal, Bowden's special advisor, said he didn't receive his contract for 2008 in the mail. Cardenal's 2007 contract expired on Oct. 31. Cardenal said he is now a free agent. He said he has been trying to reach Bowden the last few weeks, but the latter didn't return his calls.
"Somebody should have called me and told me that my contract was not renewed," Cardenal said.
But in an e-mail, Bowden said "not true," when referring to Cardenal's contract not being renewed.
Cardenal was more than an advisor. He often traveled around Minor League cities to teach the Nationals players the art of baserunning and playing the outfield. Cardenal spent the last two weeks of the season teaching Justin Maxwell how to play the outfield the right way.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.