Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner took questions from fans ahead of this weekend's WinterFest and touched on some topics that are definitely worth highlighting.
The full interview can be found here, and it begins with his thoughts on the altercation between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon, now that two months have passed:
"I knew this would be the first question, so let me tell you what our thinking is right now. This continues to be a tough one. The incident between Jonathan and Bryce Harper was an unfortunate and unacceptable blow-up between two very passionate players. Luckily, they put it behind them almost immediately. It was probably easier for them to do that because they know each other in a larger context: as teammates who both want to win. I know both players would love to have that unfortunate moment back. We have asked Mike Rizzo to determine what roster best puts us in a position to win a World Series. He will certainly do that based on talent, and what’s best for our clubhouse moving forward."
Lerner reiterates how difficult the Papelbon situation still is for the team. Do they keep him on the roster for next season, or do they trade him to avoid any potential problems between him and teammates moving forward? The team would like to trade Papelbon, if possible, but may have to wait until the free agent market for relievers continues to dry up.
Speaking of the offseason, Lerner points out how the Nationals could trade for a new starter. They have shown interest in free agent Mike Leake, which confirmed their hope to upgrade their starting rotation. A trade may very well be their best option at this point.
"We also have stockpiled enough young talent all around that we have players other teams may want to trade in return for a pitcher or two," Lerner said.
There was one other topic worth mentioning. Lerner said that Nationals Park already fits the proposed new standards for expanded netting in MLB stadiums:
"We’ve been told by MLB that our current netting meets the standards proposed this week."
Lerner also explains why the metro does not stay running when games go late, why the big baseball bat clock in center field continues to not work and his thoughts on the controversial comments made at the Winter Meetings by new manager Dusty Baker. Click here to read his full interview.