The Nationals were active on the first day of MLB's 2009 winter meetings in Indianapolis, trading for right-handed reliever and former New York Yankee Brian Bruney, and signing 14 time All-Star catcher and 1999 MVP Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez to a 2-year contract worth somewhere in the $5 to $6 million range.
In trading for Bruney, the Nationals gave up a player to be named in an attempt to provide some help to the majors' worst bullpen in 2009. Bruney was 5-0 with an ERA just shy of 4.0 in 2009.
The acquisition of Rodriguez is an interesting one. The Nationals were rumored to have been considering acquiring a veteran catcher to help mentor young catcher Jesus Flores, who missed a sizeable portion of the 2009 season due to injury. I'm a bit surprised the Nationals signed Rodriguez to a 2-year deal, but he may get a decent amount of playing time and possibly help put fans in the seats. While these moves show an active first start, the Nationals' real needs lie in the acquisition of additional arms (both starters and relievers). Rumored to be interested in top free agent John Lackey, hopefully the Nationals consider other more plausible options (i.e. the Jon Garlands of the world). Truth be told, the Nats need to attempt to upgrade their rotation at any cost, regardless of who is picked up.