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Washington Nationals Offseason Plan: Overview

October 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Washington Nationals are coming off their best season in franchise history and the best record in baseball. This will be a crucial offseason for them as they look to build on their success, and advance farther in the playoffs next season. Here is an overview of where the Nationals stand heading into this offseason.

Players Under Contract: (Contract details are from Cot's Baseball Contracts)

Jayson Werth- $16.57 million (all numbers in millions unless noted)

Ryan Zimmerman- $14.1

Kurt Suzuki- $6.44

Michael Morse- $7.00

Gio Gonzalez- $6.35

Bryce Harper- $2.00

Stephen Strasburg- $5.00 (estimate)

Chad Tracy- $1.00 (estimate)

My Take: All of these guys are locked into their roles for the most part (though Suzuki will share time with Ramos this season). The one exception is probably Michael Morse. Though a fan favorite, he's a defensive liability in the outfield (and at first base as well). If Adam LaRoche is willing to come back for a reasonable deal, the Nationals could look to deal Morse to clear his $7 million off the books.

Free Agents:

Edwin Jackson, Mike Gonzalez, Mark DeRosa, Chien-Ming Wang, Zach Duke

-My take: Jackson will be on their short list for starters, but they won't commit big money or years to him. He may be a fall back over some of the bigger names on the market. Gonzalez should be wanted back by the Nationals, though I wouldn't expect them to go crazy in terms of an offer. Maybe a 2 year $7 million deal gets it done. DeRosa doesn't really have a spot on this team, with the Nationals resigning of Chad Tracy during the season. Wang and Duke will look for starting roles elsewhere.

Mutual Options: (Can become free agents if either the team or player chooses)

Adam LaRoche: $10 million ($1 million buyout)

Sean Burnett: $3.5 million ($0.25 million buyout)

My take: The Nationals would have zero reason to not exercise their options on these two players. LaRoche and Burnett though, could consider testing the market. While it is an option, I think the more likely scenario is that both LaRoche and Burnett leverage their ability to walk into extensions. The Nationals want both players, are a winning franchise and one of the bigger markets, it would make little sense for either side to walk away.

Arbitration:

John Lannan (Arb. 3), Tom Gorzelanny (Arb. 4), Jordan Zimmermann (Arb. 2), Tyler Clippard (Arb. 2), Jesus Flores (Arb. 4), Ian Desmond (Arb. 1), Drew Storen (Arb. 1), Roger Bernadina (Arb. 1), Ross Detwiler (Arb. 1), Craig Stammen (Arb. 1)

-While typically Arbitration is a 3 year process before a player hits free agency, the Nationals have a number of exceptions. Jordan Zimmermann , Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, and Craig Stammen are all on a 4 year arbitration plan. Storen also may not be arbitration eligible this year so his contract would be reduced.

My Take: The Nationals should look to do long term deals with Zimmermann, Clippard, Desmond, and Detwiler, for even more cost certainty and hopefully buying out some of their free agent years. A guy like Storen could be in consideration for that as well, but the team will want to see how he bounces back after the playoff meltdown. John Lannan will likely be non-tendered to save some money. The most interesting cases will be what happens with Gorzelanny, Flores and Bernadina. Gorzelanny is a lock to return now, but if the Nationals work out deals with Mike Gonzalez and Sean Burnett, they could look to trade Gorzelanny instead of having a third lefty in the pen. Flores has been a nice back-up catcher for the Nationals over the years, but with Suzuki coming back and Wilson Ramos in the fold, the Nationals will probably look to trade Flores, who could have some solid value to quite a few teams. As for Bernadina, he put together his best year with the Nationals in part time work, but there are some questions going forward. The Nationals could look to acquire an outfielder this offseason (either moving Morse to 1B or trading him), which would negate some of Bernadina's late inning defensive replacement value. Also, in terms of depth Steven Lombardozzi showed himself very capable of playing the outfield (Tyler Moore less so, but could be an option as well), and minor leaguers Corey Brown and Eury Perez could be a cheaper option for a back-up OF.


3 responses to Washington Nationals Offseason Plan: Overview

  1. My biggest struggle is LaRoche vs. Morse. I think we need a true lead off guy and a defensive upgrade in the OF. Obviously Bourn, Upton, and other names will be thrown around. I just don't know what decision you make to make that happen.

    • Overall I like Morse, but really think he is overrated. That walk rate is extremely low, pitchers Strasburg, Zimmermann and Jackson all had higher walk rates. And too often he would kill innings by striking out or weakly hitting a pop-up. I also really think the Nats would miss LaRoche's defense at 1B, which saved i don't know how many off target throws by Zim, Desmond and Espinosa. Morse I feel would cost the Nats a bunch of runs defensively which would be tough.