7 Realistic Moves Washington Nationals Should Consider
The Washington Nationals are finally making some news this offseason.
They plan to announce Matt Williams as their new manager, according to FOXSports.com.
But what else should the Nats do this offseason? Should they try to improve their rotation or their bullpen? And what about their coaching staff as it relates to their new hire?
With those questions in mind, here are seven realistic moves the Washington Nationals should consider.
Note: All statistics courtesy of MLB.com unless noted otherwise.
7. Trade Danny Espinosa...
After an eventful 2013 season, Danny Espinosa seems to be the odd man out at second base for the Washington Nationals.
Take a look at the 2013 statistics for the Nationals' three primary options at second base:
But Espinosa has played 390 games at the MLB level, mostly at second base. He still has some value. The Nationals can use the 26-year-old as a bargaining chip in an attempt to fill one of their needs.
6. ...For Greg Dobbs...
To acquire Dobbs, Washington would have to make a trade with Miami. Dobbs is signed with the Marlins for one more season. The corner infielder is set to make $1.7 million in 2014, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Perhaps the Fish would be willing to part with Dobbs to acquire Danny Espinosa, who could be seen as an upgrade at second base. At the very least, Espinosa could become a mentor to Donovan Solano.
Either way, this trade could fill a need for both clubs.
5. ...to Replace Chad Tracy
Just like Greg Dobbs for the Miami Marlins, Chad Tracy has been the primary pinch hitter for the Washington Nationals for each of the last two seasons.
However, if you look at Tracy's pinch-hitting numbers as provided by Baseball-Reference.com, you'll see that his stats over the same period are inferior to those of Dobbs:
Tracy is no longer under contract with the Nats, as he signed a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2013 season according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.
I definitely want to play. I feel like I still have a whole lot left. I just need the right situation, the right opportunity. It’s kind of one those things, I don’t want to go out like this. I still feel when I get at-bats in the right situations that I produce. I’d love to come back here. We’ll see what happens with that.
The Nationals should let Tracy know that the "right situation" for him as far as the 2014 season goes is not in Washington.
4. Sign LHP Eric O'Flaherty
The following table shows what O'Flaherty accomplished in his injury-shortened 2013 campaign, along with his career numbers:
One final thing that will make O'Flaherty's signing well worth it: The Nats would be signing him away from their bitter rival, the Atlanta Braves.
As the old baseball saying goes: If you can't beat him, sign him.
3. Let Dan Haren Walk...
The Washington Nationals should make no effort to re-sign Dan Haren.
The 33-year-old right hander had been signed by the Nationals to a one-year contract worth $13 million, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Haren did not live up to the contract.
Take a look at his 2013 season compared to his 162-game average, according to Baseball-Reference.com:
With the year that I’ve had, I’m not going to be able to just pick and choose where I want to go. If I was 18-5 with a 3.00 ERA, I could choose to play on the West Coast. But when you have a 5.00 ERA, there might be only options to go Midwest or East Coast.
Haren seems to be resigned to the fact that Washington is not one of his options.
2. ...then Use in-House Options to Fill Fourth Spot in Rotation
The Nats should not sign a free agent to fill their need for a fourth starter in the rotation, as the have done each of the last two offseasons with the signings of Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren, respectively.
Instead, they should use an in-house option to find the fourth starter for their rotation. Here are three good choices:
The Nats should go with one of these options and opt not to fill the fourth position in the starting rotation with a free agent.
1. Keep Randy Knorr as Bench Coach
So, it looks like the Washington Nationals will hire Matt Williams to succeed Davey Johnson as their next manager. Williams would be the team's fifth manager since moving to Washington in 2005, according to The Washington Post.
Williams' stiffest competition for the position came from Randy Knorr, the Nationals' bench coach. Despite not getting the job, Knorr publicly stated that he's still interested in being a part of the Nationals. The feeling appears to be mutual, as tweeted by Adam Kilgore:
.@Ken_Rosenthal reports the Nats plan to hire Matt Williams and keep Randy Knorr as bench coach. Knorr says he'd stay. "I love this team."— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) October 25, 2013
This is big news for the Nats, for a couple reasons.
Knorr, 44, has been with the Nationals’ franchise since he joined the Montreal Expos as a catcher in 2001. He has managed at every level of the minor leagues and he served as Johnson’s bench coach the past two seasons. He has developed close relationships to numerous players, especially homegrown players like shortstop Ian Desmond, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and left-hander Ross Detwiler.
More importantly, a man who is willing to put aside his professional aspirations just to stay on a baseball team he has grown attached to can be an extremely positive influence.