Offseason Outlook: Washington Nationals

First up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Nationals.  Their commitments for 2010:

C – Jesus Flores $412K
C – Wil Nieves – $445K+
1B – Adam Dunn – $12MM
2B – Alberto Gonzalez – $400K
SS – Cristian Guzman – $8MM
3B – Ryan Zimmerman – $6.25MM
IF/OF – Willie Harris – $1.5MM
IF – Pete Orr – $600K+ 
LF – Josh Willingham – $2.95MM+
CF – Nyjer Morgan – $412K
RF – Elijah Dukes – $412K
OF – Justin Maxwell – $400K
OF –

SP – John Lannan – $424K
SP – Scott Olsen – $2.8MM+
SP – Craig Stammen – $400K
SP – Garrett Mock – $400K
SP – J.D. Martin – $400K

Other rotation candidates: Shairon Martis, Ross Detwiler, Collin Balester

RP – Mike MacDougal – $2.65MM+
RP – Saul Rivera – $475K+
RP – Jason Bergmann – $439K+
RP – Sean Burnett – $409K+
RP – Tyler Clippard – $400K
RP –
RP - 

Other commitments: Austin Kearns – $1MM buyout, Stephen Strasburg – $400K plus portion of signing bonus

Non-tender candidates: Olsen

The Nationals entered 2009 with a $60MM payroll.  Their 2010 commitments come to about $44MM plus arbitration raises to Willingham, MacDougal, and others.  The Nats should have some cash to work with.

Now that Mike Rizzo is officially the team's GM, he can formulate a long-term plan for the organization.  The Nats seem to be going for the "rebuilding but respectable" route, given the signing of Dunn, acquisition of Willingham, and other attempted moves.  The Royals signed Jose Guillen and Gil Meche in recent years under that type of plan.  The Pirates, on the other hand, have avoided spending big free agent bucks.

MLB.com's Bill Ladson learned that the Nats intend to add a veteran presence to their inexperienced pitching staff this winter.  Low-cost options abound in the free agent market, and I like the idea.  A call to Tom Glavine could make sense.

The Nationals seem to have a long road ahead.  They're building around a core of Zimmerman and Strasburg; who else will star on the next good Washington club?  Promising righty Jordan Zimmermann went down with Tommy John surgery.  Morgan, Dukes, and Lannan might be productive players for a while.  But the farm system remains unimpressive, so the Nationals will be bad for the next several years unless they decide to double the payroll.

That leads me to ask: should the Nationals trade Ryan Zimmerman?  While he is the face of the franchise, his value is currently very high and he is signed through 2013.  Trading him could cause that farm system ranking to improve in a hurry.  To a lesser extent, Dunn, Willingham, and Lannan could bring in younger talent.



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