It’s hard not to like the Nationals. They have a savvy manager and something of a patchwork team. They’re trying to build a club from the ground up without spending big on free agents. They’re also not scared off by supposed attitude issues, acquiring players like Dmitri Young, Lastings Milledge, and Elijah Dukes.
Given the Nats’ desire to give Wily Mo Pena a full-time job, the team is left with four outfielders for three spots. You might think this would make Austin Kearns available. The 27 year-old hit .266/.355/.411 this year and hasn’t shown much power at RFK. He makes $5MM in ’08, $9MM in ’09, and has a $10MM club option for ’10 with a $1MM buyout.
However, Kearns is unlikely to be traded according to both Jim Bowden and Manny Acta. They’re happy to have four outfielders and hope to get ABs for all. It would be surprising if everyone stayed healthy all year, anyway. With his salary escalating in ’09, it makes sense to wait on Kearns. Plus, he might have better power numbers in the new park.