Offseason In Review: Washington Nationals

Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Nationals.

Major League Signings

  • Jason Marquis, SP: two years, $15MM.
  • Ivan Rodriguez, C: two years, $6MM.
  • Matt Capps, RP: one year, $3.5MM.  Arbitration-eligible after season.
  • Chien-Ming Wang, SP: one year, $2MM.  Arbitration-eligible after season.
  • Adam Kennedy, 2B: one year, $1.75MM.  Includes $2MM club option for 2011 with a $500K buyout.
  • Scott Olsen, SP: one year, $1MM.  Arbitration-eligible after season.
  • Tyler Walker, RP: one year, $650K.  Arbitration-eligible after season.
  • Total spend: $29.9MM.

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Summary

I have similar feelings toward the Nationals' offseason as I did with the Orioles.  I understand $20-30MM spent on short-term free agent acquisitions won't set the franchises back in the rebuilding process much.  But if the goal is mainly veteran respectability, couldn't it have been done at half the price?

In particular I am not a fan of the $21MM the Nationals committed to Marquis and Pudge over the next two years.  They're mediocre players who don't figure to bring much back in trades or draft picks.  The Nats could've gotten similar mentoring from, say, Doug Davis and Yorvit Torrealba for one year and $6.5MM total.  Or even John Lannan and Jamie Burke.

On the other hand, the signings of Capps, Wang, and Kennedy are sensible.  The guarantees were minimal, and these players are more likely to have trade value.  Plus, the arbitration-eligibility of Capps and Wang for 2011 essentially serves as a club option.  One complaint with the signing of Walker: it led to the loss of Estrada.  Estrada may never pan out in the bigs, but why swap your #18 prospect for a year or two of Walker?

If we eliminated the top two from the Major League Signings ledger, I'd say GM Mike Rizzo had a solid offseason.  However, I'm not sure what the plan is here: the Nationals have Keith Law's #23-ranked farm system and should probably launch a full-blown rebuild, but they're adding relatively pricey free agents.


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