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Nationals make progress in Las Vegas

Nats make progress in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- How busy was Nationals general manager Jim Bowden during the Winter Meetings? He met with the local media only twice during the four-day event.

Although the Nationals didn't make any significant deals during the Meetings, assistant general manager Mike Rizzo believes the team made a lot of progress at the Bellagio.

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"We laid some groundwork for a lot of things we could do throughout the winter," Rizzo said. "We worked extremely hard on a lot of different subjects. We feel we came out of here successful. The proof will be in the pudding from the winter until Spring Training."

Bowden and his staff spent most of the time trying to sign free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, their top target. The club offered the switch-hitting slugger an eight-year, $160 million contract that would pay Teixeira an average of $20 million per season. The Nationals would not confirm the dollar figures.

However, they have competition when it comes to acquiring Teixeira; the Angels, Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees are also in the mix. In fact, a published report said that Baltimore offered Teixeira a seven-year, $150 million contract -- [-- which would average $21.4 million per season.

"We made a very concrete offer and Teixeira is our No. 1 priority," Bowden said Wednesday. "I tried to be up front and honest. We are trying to build this club through development and scouting, through young players, through trades for young players. We also said if it was a free agent who was young and in his 20s, [we would want him] to be part of the long-term solution."

If they do not sign Teixeira, look for the Nationals to make a serious bid for free-agent outfielder/first baseman Adam Dunn.

Dunn, 28, and Bowden have a history together with the Reds. Bowden drafted Dunn in the second round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft. Three years later, Dunn was in the big leagues and became Cincinnati's best power hitter. In fact, Dunn has hit at least 40 home runs for five straight years. While he has a .247 career batting average, Dunn has a .381 on-base percentage and is versatile in the field.

During the first two days of the Meetings, the Nationals tried to make a trade with the Rockies, but nothing came out of it.

Published reports on Tuesday stated Washington was close to trading right-hander Tim Redding to Colorado for center fielder Willy Taveras, but a baseball source close to the Nats said a deal wasn't even close.

The source confirmed that the two clubs have been in discussions, but Taveras was not part of it. MLB.com reported that the two clubs have been discussing a Redding trade, but it is believed Washington was interested in center fielder Carlos Gonzalez instead of Taveras.

In fact, one source close to the Rockies went so far as to say that the two parties had a productive 30-minute session on Monday.

Deals done: The Nationals released reliever Jesus Colome.

Rule 5 activity: Selected Reds right-hander Terrell Young with the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League phase and White Sox outfielder Ricardo Nanita in the Triple-A phase. The Nationals also lost right-hander Josh Perrault to the Orioles in the Triple-A phase.

Goals accomplished: The team was able to get relief help by taking Young in the Rule 5 Draft. Young, 23, is expected to compete for a spot in Washington's bullpen. Young had a combined 2.88 ERA this season for Class A Sarasota and Class A Dayton. In 43 relief outings, he tallied a 1.68 strikeout-to-walk ratio (47 strikeouts/28 walks), a statistic he has improved each season since 2006.

Unfinished business: The Nationals are waiting for Teixeira to make a decision. If he decides not to sign with Washington, look for the team to make Dunn its top target.

Look for the Nationals to go after more relief help and possibly pursue a second baseman.

GM's bottom line: "We have been very busy exploring a lot of possibilities. There have been a lot of trade discussions. We met with agents for free agents. That's where we are." -- Bowden, regarding possible future deals

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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