Offseason Outlook: Washington Nationals

Check out our previous offseason outlooks here.  Today let’s take a look at the 2009 Washington Nationals:

C – Jesus Flores – $400K
C – Wil Nieves – $400K
1B – Nick Johnson – $5.5MM (wrist surgery June ’08)
2B – Emilio Bonifacio – $400K
SS – Cristian Guzman – $8MM
3B – Ryan Zimmerman – $465K+
IF – Dmitri Young – $5MM
IF – Ronnie Belliard – $1.9MM
IF/OF – Willie Harris – $800K+
LF – Elijah Dukes – $400K
CF – Lastings Milledge – $403K
RF – Austin Kearns – $8MM
OF – Wily Mo Pena – $5MM club option or $2MM player option (shoulder surgery July ’08)

SP – Tim Redding – $1MM+
SP – John Lannan – $400K
SP – Jason Bergmann – $404K
SP – Collin Balester – $400K
SP – Shawn Hill – $402K (arthroscopic elbow surgery September ’08)

RP – Joel Hanrahan – $400K
RP – Garrett Mock – $400K
RP – Saul Rivera – $436K
RP – Jesus Colome – $1.25MM+
RP – Ryan Wagner – $450K+
RP – Charlie Manning – $400K
RP – Steven Shell – $400K

Non-tender candidates: Chad Cordero – $6.2MM, Ryan Langerhans – $500K+

The Nats have about $40MM committed for ’09 before arbitration raises.  After that they could be around $45MM (mainly due to Zimmerman and Redding).  The Nats entered the ’08 season at $55MM, so they can add a few free agents without increasing payroll.

Odalis Perez was a nice signing for around a million bucks; the Nats should re-sign him at a small increase or attempt to find a similar veteran to stabilize the rotation (they pursued Bartolo Colon last year).  Beyond that, they can just let guys fight it out.  Hill will try to stay healthy, Bergmann has potential (he was recently removed from the rotation).  Prospect Jordan Zimmermann looks interesting and nearly ready.  Redding could have value on the trade market, but there’s no rush to deal him.

Young and Kearns are the team’s worst contracts, and they’ll be near-impossible to move.  If everyone’s healthy next year, hopefully Manny Acta will ensure regular playing time for Dukes and Milledge.  Pena may choose to stick around for $2MM.

The bullpen is questionable, but it’d be best not to spend significant money there for a team not expected to compete.  Big-name free agents in general would be a mistake.  Last year the Nationals pursued Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones; neither would’ve been a good signing for them.  Hopefully Jim Bowden won’t become too obsessed with Adam Dunn this winter (assuming Bowden keeps his job).  Dunn doesn’t fit on this team. They’re in the beginning of a long rebuilding process.

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