Do you believe in the theory that a rebuilding team like the Royals or Nationals needs to make a "splash" as a good faith gesture toward the fanbase? Thom Loverro of the Washington Times does. And not just an ill-advised $55 deal like Gil Meche‘s – he wants to the Nats to sign Andruw Jones this offseason.
Loverro believes that a new ballpark wouldn’t be enough, and that a superstar needs to be paired with Ryan Zimmerman to keep fans coming through the tough years. Do I agree with Loverro and Bobby Cox that Jones is in the middle of his prime right now? No. But he should age well, and the Nats have nothing going on in center field. I do agree with Loverro that this expenditure makes more sense than Alfonso Soriano, especially if the price tag is similar.
Nats President Stan Kasten was also President of the Braves, and wants to build the Nationals in their image. That means focusing on the farm system and making that splash when the team is ready to contend. I highly doubt the Nats would seriously consider signing a guy like Jones this winter. But for a struggling team looking for some goodwill and a contract that might not destroy them in 2013, Jones is the best candidate.
I think in the long-term, the Nationals will still be better off suffering through subpar attendance years and building the team without any dangerously massive contracts.
In case you’re curious, there are only a handful of quality future free agents who will be under 30 in 2008: Corey Patterson, Carlos Zambrano, Jason Jennings, and Mark Buehrle.