Keith Law wrote his annual top 50 free agents list this weekend, and many of the guys that we’ve discussed (and Rizzo and company are currently discussing) are on that list. In order, here are some of those guys that they are probably really thinking about, and what Law says about them
#1 Cliff Lee - “No. 1 starter, one of the half-dozen best in the game at his craft… I’m not a fan of long-term contracts for pitchers, but… Lee is the pitcher for whom I’d make an exception in this class.” Come on Nats, at least try for this one!
#6 Adam Dunn – “he did show in 2010 that given regular playing time at first, he could be at least below average there, rather than an outright disaster… He [hits] that so well, though, that [his fielding's] a problem only for people more concerned with whether or not he likes baseball than whether or not he helps his team win.” A nice little Keith Law jab at the people that worry about things like “grit” more than actual production. I am still of the mindset that there is no competition for Dunn as an option at first. Nobody comes close this offseason.
#8 Jorge de la Rosa – “He’s thrown more than 140 innings in a pro season once, and he walks too many hitters. But if you want to roll the dice on a power arm who has some potential development remaining if he stays healthy and throws more strikes, De La Rosa is your guy.” I guess he will garner some interest, but he wouldn’t be my choice.
#10 Jake Westbrook – “he’s at least a solid No. 3 starter who can work deep into a lot of games because of his control and ability to get ground balls.” Yeah, it wouldn’t be flashy or highly exciting, but he wouldn’t be the worst pickup. Just not sure it’s what they’re looking for.
#11 Hiroki Kiruda – “Because of his control and lack of a serious platoon split, he might be worth a two-year gamble, but his age and frequent-if-minor arm issues should scare teams off a longer commitment.” I haven’t seen him mentioned much, but Law seems impressed with him enough to rank him this high. But I don’t see him, due to those issues, as the guy the Nats will go after.
#15 Aubrey Huff - “I see Huff as more of a .260/.340/.420 guy going forward, worse if he returns to the American League.” It’s a far cry from Dunn, unless he repeats his 2010, but you could do worse to man first base.
#30 Carlos Pena – “…great defense, patience and power. Those skills are still there, but his ability to recognize or hit off-speed stuff vanished after 2008 and has yet to return.” I am less impressed than Law. I don’t think he’d be awful, but it’s not the direction I’d go. His name has come up a great deal in the last few weeks, it seems the Nats are very interested.
#32 Derrek Lee – “lost enough bat speed that it showed up not just in decreased power, but in his ability to get on base… He’s only 35 and was always pretty athletic for a first baseman, so it’s possible he can hold off a full decline” I am probably less interested in Lee and Pena, but neither gets me excited in terms of production
#44 Lance Berkman – “as a first baseman or DH against right-handed pitching he has value for his ability to get on base and his average power.” Want to get creative here? He can hit righties, Morse can hit lefties, they could platoon at first, if you believe that Morse can play first. The problem is of course, Morse might be able to hit righties occasionally, but on the days that lefties are starting, Berkman’s probably gotta sit. And he probably won’t be itching for that particular role, but you never know.
#48 Nick Johnson – “[Insert standard "if healthy" disclaimer, with joke about relative unlikeliness of said state of being]“ I don’t think the Nats are interested in him, even though they need a 1B, I just really like what Law wrote here.
#50 Javier Vazquez - “his disastrous return to New York was accompanied by a significant loss of velocity that could signal a hidden injury. He’s on this list because he’s been very good in the past” I am extremely wary of signing Vazquez. But, if the significant loss of mph on the fastball is a symptom of a curable physical condition, and someone cures said condition, I don’t see why he couldn’t be pretty good again. But that’s a long road from here.