It’s July 15th, which means that the Nats have 15 days to make trades. The deadline is at the end of the month, and they haven’t done anything other than the Morgan/Burnett deal. Ok, the later they go, the more leverage they have, conceivably. Of course, while banking on other teams to get desperate, Washington may get the same way themselves. There’s been plenty of talk about who’s tradable – almost any position player. And lots of talk about who’s the best bets to trade – Johnson, Willingham and Dunn seem to be the most desirable. But what about what they NEED?
The Nats are trying to be respectable next year, I assume, and in doing so, they’ll need to have some players. More than just bodies to fill, hopefully they’ll get something for the future. So here is a list of positions that they could use some help with. I’m not saying they should target these positions in the trade necessarily. In the trade they should get the best prospect they can every time. But something to keep in mind during the trading season, and for the upcoming offseason.
The Nationals started this season with 47 outfielders, and none of them were guaranteed anything except for Dunn. His 40 HR mark looks like it’ll happen again, and he’s there. It’s assumed around here that Morgan is gonna roam CF for the next year or two, unless Justin Maxwell really does become Mike Cameron. Dukes should get a spot, too, probably in RF. But I still think either Willingham, Dunn or both will be gone. There’s the chance that one of those guys is gonna go to first base. And Kearns may get a minor league deal in 2010, but it should be around here. So there’s a good chance that a corner outfield spot will be empty, or at least understaffed. Potential FA pickups for 2010: Jason Bay, Mike Cameron, Johnny Damon, Vlad Guerrero, Matt Holliday, Reed Johnson, Xavier Nady, Randy Winn.
Nick Johnson is gone at the end of the year, regardless of a trade, via free agency. I’d be surprised if the Nats resigned him after all the time he’s missed here, but there aren’t many free agents available to help, so maybe a one year deal? Anyway, the real reason it isn’t a panic button issue is Chris Marrero. The #3 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America, he’s in good company. #1 and 2 were Zimmermann and Detwiler*. This year, in high-A ball, he’s hit .293/.355/.474. He’s 21, still looks like a future solid player, but he’s not ready yet. So a stopgap is necessary. Potential FA pickups for 2010: Nick Johnson, Russell Branyan, Carlos Delgado, Aubrey Huff, Adam Laroche.
Unless Hernandez or Gonzalez proves they can hit, DC has no 2B. I personally think they should have one – Cristian Guzman, and then be stuck without a SS. Then go sign the fielding-est SS money can buy, and watch the defense improve dramatically. Up the middle D of a great SS and Nyjer, I like it. Within the system, a couple of good defensive shortstops are doing alright with the bat, like Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Espinosa is still a few years away, but it’s possible if Desmond continues to hit in AA (.306/.372/.494), the best infield arm in the system will move up a level soon. Perhaps he is the one that can move Guzman over, shore up the defense, and hit well enough to play every day. Potential FA pickups for 2010: Mark DeRosa, Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera, Adam Everett, John McDonald, Marco Scutaro, Jack Wilson.
Do I need to get into it? Step #1 in my “How to Fix the Nats” program is getting some free agents rather than cast-offs in the bullpen for 2010. Potential FA pickups for 2010: Joaquin Benoit, Chad Bradford, Octavio Dotel, Mike Gonzalez, John Grabow, Kevin Gregg, Matt Herges, Trevor Hoffman, Ron Mahay, Darren Oliver, Fernando Rodney, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde
Those are the biggest things I can see that they need to fix if they want to win as many as, say, 70 games next year. At least they have a catcher, a third baseman, and some starters.
* Interesting note on Ross Detwiler – don’t get too bothered by his demotion. BA said “Detwiler has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the system. He’ll start 2009 in Double-A, and some club officials believe he’ll be in the big leagues by September.” So being in AAA in July isn’t terrible, considering they didn’t think he’d be good enough to pitch in the majors until the end of this year.