In our first of a 3-part post, we talked about the arbitration cases that the Nats face. Some of those decisions are already being made and that post has been updated. Now, lets talk about the free agents.
|Player||What Should Washington Do?/What WILL We do?|
|Dunn, Adam||We should resign him, but Rizzo seems dead set against it. Offer him arbitration and let him walk.|
|Batista, Miguel||Valuable rubber arm in BP; I would resign him to a simliar 1 year deal in 2011.|
|Harris, Willie||Let him go. Declining value, Morse a better utility option.|
|Mench, Kevin||Let him go; awful september numbers. Perhaps ML FA in AAA|
|Kennedy, Adam||Decline club option and let him go. No need for 2nd baseman.|
Clearly, the Adam Dunn decision will be critical to the direction of the team and our offense next year. As noted above, personally I think he needs to be re-signed. The team’s actions all year (plus Tom Boswell’s repeated comments about how the front office has bungled the negotiations) seem to indicate though that we’re content with getting the compensatory picks and moving another direction. If we decide to let him go, I’d prefer to sign someone like Adam LaRoche, a player who plays decent defense and shows a good bat. I don’t think Carlos Pena (as is frequently rumored) is a good choice, and there’s sentiment in the Tampa Bay community that he may stay on in Tampa and try to improve on an awful 2010 season. But, most pundits seem to think he’s coming here.
We also could become more creative and put someone like Josh Willingham, Mike Morse or even a supposedly healthy Jesus Flores at first as a stop gap until one of our prospects like Chris Marrero or even, say it isn’t so, Bryce Harper is ready to come up. I mean come on, you “hide” defensive liabilities at first base. If someone is 6′4″ and has any fielding ability they should be good enough to play the position.
Moving on to other FAs to be the decisions are relatively easy. Harris, Mench, and Kennedy are gone. None batted well enough to even consider and we have more able (and cheaper) minor leaguers ready to come up and serve as backups. The last FA to be Miguel Batista proved to be a great asset to the bullpen at relatively little cost and would be worth bringing back. We signed him last year on a non-guaranteed contract but guaranteeing him $1M wouldn’t be a huge risk.
Now, given the above, what is in store in the FA market? I know i’ve heard lots of noise about how the Nats are going after Cliff Lee but I just don’t see that happening. Here’s what I do see them doing:
1. Getting one or two pitchers. Rizzo has a history with Brandon Webb, Arizona has blown enough cash on the guy, and he may be ready to come back. We sign him to a one year deal and try to get lucky. I’d also be happy with trading for one of Tampa’s spare starters (Garza, Shields), acquiring Vazquez (who I think is an NL, non-NY market pitcher and could return to his 2009 Atlanta form) or a De La Rosa type (hard thrower and can get Ks). Most pundits have us signing Vazquez, some have us getting Webb.
2. Get a FA first baseman: I’ve previously said I like Adam LaRoche. Rizzo likes Carlos Pena. We’ll see what happens. There’s lots of teams looking for first basemen, so the competition for these guys may force our hand into a guy we don’t want.
3. Find a utility player: we need a better version of Willie Harris. May come from the minors as a prospect but probably not. We need a guy who can play 2nd/ss or 3b in a pinch.
4. Sign or acquire a marquee outfielder. I’d love to see someone like Werth or Ross in right field, which could move Bernadina to center, allow us to rid ourselves of Morgan and then use Maxwell as the 4th outfielder. We could also acquire someone like Rasmus or Ellsbury, put them in center, dump Morgan and go with Willingham-new CF-Bernadina. Or we could use a Morse/Bernadina platoon in Right with Bernadina occasionally spelling Morgan in center (though they’re both lefty and both hit relatively the same, so that may not actually work).
I don’t really see us going after any bullpen help or a closer. As Zuckerman once said, we’re remarkably set on 2011 positions despite being a 90-loss team. We had a good bullpen last year and have a couple of decent looking reliever prospects in Carr and Kimball. I could see a 2011 bullpen with Clippard, Burnett, Storen, Stammen, Balester, Slaten and Carr. Or substitute some of our arbitration/fa guys for Stammen and Balester.
I’ve said for a while that the Nats need to spend like a mid market team. $90M payroll at a minimum so as not to insult the fanbase. Perhaps this off season we’ll see it. They only have a paltry $24M committed for 2011 right now and, while that number will increase with potentially 13 arbitration cases, a huge chunk of last year’s payroll is now gone (just Guzman and Dunn consisted of nearly 1/3 of our 2010 payroll). So, lets see some FA dollars get spent!