These are baseball's first Winter Meetings where everyone has Twitter. This makes for more, earlier and juicier rumors. Like the one currently making the rounds that have the Washington Nationals throwing an ungodly sum of money at Cliff Lee.
This one probably started as some idle chatter in the line at the breakfast buffet this morning. (The warming trays, not the fresh fruit. Beat writers don't eat fruit.) First Buster Olney let it be known that the Nats will offer a check with a lot of zeroes. Then Mark Feinsand followed up with speculation that they might offer seven years.
That'd be nuts, wouldn't it? With Lee and Strasburg (when he returns) going two out of every five games, and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman anchoring the lineup, the Nationals become contenders right away, don't they?
This isn't the way rebuilding is supposed to work. A penurious team builds from within, catching lightning long enough to compete for a couple seasons. Attendance goes up, and with it revenue. Then they open the checkbook. But why does it have to be that way? If the Nats drew like they do when Strasburg is on the mound, they'd have much more money to spend. Why not instantly double the number of must-see nights like that? Why not overpay elite free agents to turn the team around immediately, hoping that outlay pays off financially in the long run?
We (and Ted Lerner) can dream, can't we? The seven-year rumor was immediately shot down. And if the Nats were opening the pursestrings, they wouldn't have let Adam Dunn go for what turned out to be a very affordable amount. No, it's more likely the patented Nationals strategy of leaking info to make it seem like they're serious, only to drop out of the bidding (see: Mark Teixeira).
That's okay. It was fun while it lasted. Bizarre speculation is what the Winter Meetings are all about.