Free agency, the Rule 5 draft and the Winter meetings. Baseball’s hot stove is heating up, especially with General Manager meetings wrapping up in Orlando.
Before we dive into all the what if’s, how much payroll are the Nationals willing to take on? Although lucrative new TV deals may pump an additional $25 million dollars into every club, Washington payroll obligations for 2014 already match 2013. The Nationals have the eighth highest payroll entering free agency, in a group of six others trailing the Dodgers and Angels. They’ve come a long way since the MLB controlled payroll days.
Free agency? Trade? Promote from within? What should the Nationals do? Weigh in at the DCPROSPORTS reddit page.
Starting pitching tops the rumor mill when the Nationals are mentioned. Tampa Bay’s David Price and Detroit’s Max Scherzer are certainly available, but may demand more in trade than Washington is willing to offer. Chicago’s Jeff Samardjia, of Notre Dame football fame, may be more within their sights.
What will the Nationals trade, if they don’t find a suitable starting pitcher in free agency? After giving up this year’s pick (2013 draft) as payment for the signing of Rafael Soriano and the trades of other top prospects, GM Mike Rizzo is reluctant to part with the 2014 first round pick.
Would the Nats part with Anthony Rendon? When/if Ryan Zimmerman moves to first base, Rendon almost certainly would take over the hot corner and might be untouchable. I like the idea of Rendon at second base with Danny Espinosa as the utility middle infielder. A natural shortstop and a switch hitter, this may be exactly the role Espinosa needs to get back on track.
Lucas Giolito has moved into the top spot on Baseball America’s top ten Nationals prospects. Before you go trading him, Nats Insider Mark Zuckerman reminds us sometimes the trades you don’t make are the best trades of all. (Zack Greinke)
Imagine if the Nationals had given Aroldis Chapman a sixth year and he had signed with them instead of Cincinnati? Certainly would have solved the left handed bullpen problem or the additional starting pitcher. 24 year old Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka is going to be costly, with the Yankees wanting him and all, but he could be the real deal.
Reports of the Nats interest in Jacoby Ellsbury may be premature. At the same time, shopping Denard Span is also apparently not on the table. At this time of year, hard to know what is truth and what is smoke screen.
Unfinished business includes finding that stud lefthander for the bullpen. The outset of the GM meetings brought us news of the Nats interest in Yankees free agent Boone Logan. Another name has been added to the wish list in San Francisco veteran Javier Lopez. Lopez is a graduate of James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, my alma mater.
For Hot Stove previews from across Major League Baseball, Joe Lemire, the Inside Baseball writer for SI.com looks at the NL East and the battle for supremacy between the Nats and the Atlanta Braves.
Off the field, while Matt Williams was added to replace the retiring Davey Johnson, the Nationals continue to lose front office types and other staff. Is this a problem?
Follow Tom Blaz on #twitter @AubieTom