'Tis the season of change
By signing Jayson Werth, the Washington Nationals have proven that this offseason will be anything but boring for their fans. If the Nats had signed a first base replacement for Adam Dunn first or a starting pitcher to bolster the rotation, many fans would probably wonder if the Nationals were done with their major offseason moves. The order of this signing is actually important, because it finally gives Nationals fans assurances that their team's owner isn't a real-life version Rachel Phelps, the owner from Major League. With long-awaited proof that the Lerners will spend on free agents, their personas could be changing from that of the tight-fisted, profit-at-all costs misers to shrewd, value investors.
As a baseball move, the Werth signing points to more moves to come. General Manager Mike Rizzo was very clear at the beginning of the offseason that the team's needs were starting pitching, first base, and a corner outfielder. It felt like getting a premium outfielder would be a nice thing to have, but Rizzo's rhetoric ratcheted up the need for the other two positions. Now with the outfield taken care of, Rizzo has not backed off his desire for a starting pitcher and a Dunn replacement. For the first time, it feels like the Nationals may exit the offseason with all of their advertised needs met.
Signing Werth also makes me think that the Nats probably aren't done shuffling their outfield. Right now, you have a pretty crowded outfield of Werth, Willingham, Morgan, Morse, and Bernadina. I'd love to see the Nats head into Opening Day with that type of depth, which would mean not having to watch Willie Harris/Willy Taveras types patrol the outfield during the dog days of summer. If Morgan starts in centerfield that means you also would have two players capable of starting (Morse and Bernadina) not playing starter's innings. I think the Nats will look at this one of two ways. They'll keep those five outfielders, knowing that they'll need all five when the inevitable injury pops up or to mitigate potential ineffectiveness. Rizzo might also look at it as an opportunity to reallocate resources, either through a trade or position change (Willingham or Morse at first base?). Based purely on offseason chatter, I'm expecting Washington to move Willingham in order to shore up the starting pitching.
We'll see whether the moves pan out, but it's exciting to see the Nats get aggressive this offseason. Washington still seems like a long shot to land Cliff Lee, but imagine if they got Lee and signed Carlos Pena at a bargain rate. The team would look completely different heading into 2011 and beyond. Those changes might be improbable, but not impossible given the Werth deal. That's the biggest thing that signing Werth delivered, hope for more.
| December 7, 2010; 12:38 PM ET
Categories: Nationals, Ryan Korby | Tags: Nationals, Ryan Korby
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