Nationals GM Jim Bowden signed veterans Dmitri Young and Ron Belliard to curious two-year extensions last year. He’s now faced with a logjam at two infield positions.
Ben Goessling of the Washington Times describes the first base battle between Young and Nick Johnson, who get along well. Johnson has more trade value, given his age. Neither player is a lock for 150 games though. Johnson is injury-prone, but his perennial .400 OBPs are appealing. He and Young are both signed through ’09; Young has a vesting option for ’10. The Yankees or Mets could be in the market for Johnson if their current options don’t work out. Either team could then add Mark Teixeira after the season, creating another surplus.
The Nats have handed the starting shortstop job to Cristian Guzman, creating a battle for second base between Belliard and Felipe Lopez. Lopez responded with a "hell no" regarding a bench role. Hell no to your .659 OPS and lousy defense, Felipe! Belliard is more open to a part-time role, though he’s been outplaying Lopez. Lopez may be the one to trade, given his impending free agency. Barry Svrluga notes that the Orioles have been scouting the Nationals this spring, perhaps with the idea of acquiring Belliard or Lopez if they trade Brian Roberts to the Cubs. The O’s are also interested in Mark Loretta and Juan Uribe for that reason.