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Nationals still weighing options in right field

With opening day two weeks away, the Nationals remain open to going outside the organization to fill their need in right field, according to a front-office member. While they have not seriously discussed Jermaine Dye internally, he is the most high-profile free agent still available and the Nationals have not ruled out pursuing him. Dye would have interest in playing for the Nationals because he would have the chance to play every day, according to a source familiar with Dye's thinking.

Dye is a Type A free agent, but because the White Sox declined to offer him arbitration the Nationals would not lose a draft pick if they signed him. Dye is a traditionally fast starter, which could help his trade value if the Nationals signed him, fell out of contention and wanted to deal him.

It's a bit of a surprise that a player of Dye's caliber is still available. Even though he is 36, Dye last season slugged 27 home runs and compiled a .793 OPS in 141 games. Over the past three years, Dye has gone .276/.338/.515 (average, on-base, slugging) before the all-star break and .254/.330/.471 after.

The Nationals would also be content to fill right field with players currently on their roster. They believe a platoon made up of some combination of Willie Harris, Mike Morse, Justin Maxwell and Roger Bernadina will give them more production than would have Elijah Dukes, whom the Nationals released last week.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 22, 2010; 2:34 PM ET
 
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Next: Zimmerman heats up, Maxwell slumps, Marquis makes progress

Comments

Sign Dye you cheapskates!

Posted by: trezmartin | March 22, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

He's a better hitter than all the platoon options. Sign him already, we need all the help we can get.

Posted by: futbolclif | March 22, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

What's to weigh? Sign him!!!

Posted by: Natstoyou | March 22, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Dye plays zero D. Personally, I'd rather us make a trade for a servicable rightfielder using some of our AAAA pitching depth. Willie Harris/Mike Morse and friends platoon can prove that they can't handle the job first while we improve our pitching depth. Hopefully somebody like Livan Hernandez can pitch moderately well as our 4th starter in the interim and we can make a trade for something servicable in right field.

When we are truly ready to contend, we will need to sign or trade for a true RF because we aren't drafting talent in the Of.

Posted by: souldrummer | March 22, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Um, considering he is now a worse defensive OFer than Dunn, I would hope they don't sign him. Imagine a right side of the field with Dunn at first and Dunn behind him?? I shudder to think of horrific that would be.

Posted by: erocks33 | March 22, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

That should read Dunn at first and DYE behind him. See, I told you I was shuddering just thinking about it ...

Posted by: erocks33 | March 22, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The concern about Dye's defense is legitimate, but probably outweighed by his offense. His range is not good, but when he was younger he had a decent arm (not sure about now). Start him, bat him sixth, and replace him in the 7th inning if you're ahead.

But there are other options too. There are a number of teams with one too many starting outfielders and one too few 5th starters.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 22, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Save your money on Dye. His defense sucks and not one other team wants him.

I would go begging back to get Elijah Dukes and tell him you were wrong for releasing him.

Dukes based on last years numbers would have produced over 100 RBIs during a full season and he really showed a lot of hustle and great defense in Spring Training.

So are you going to stick with Maxwell like you have all Spring Training with no results?

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 22, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

> Dunn at first and DYE behind him

Please, no....

One of these four guys will break out soon. It's better to have options. If you sign Dye, you spend money that you don't need to spend. Maybe you trade for someone in the fall?!? Do we need that with the amount of young talent we have?

Posted by: CajunD | March 22, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

These are two lousy options, playing right field with what we have or having Jermaine Dye out there.
His bat is OK, not much better than OK, but it almost assuredly quite better than what we have.
His defense is bad, and we are already a bad defensive team.

Weighing all things out, I say move on with Dye.

Our offense is going to be OK. Not great, but not lousy.

Our pitching, our defense, they appear fully ready to be lousy.

So a small improvement in offense (Dye) would help less than a small improvement in defense (I hate to say it - Maxwell).

I want the Nats to loosen their purse strings, but I'd rather pass on this.

BTW - This is a pretty significant screw up in "the plan". "The Plan" must have presumed Dukes would be healthy, improve his pitch recognition, eliminate the holes in his swing and go .280 / 25 / 90.

It was obvious this wasn't going to happen.
It was more obvious when Dukes played almost no winter ball this was not going to happen. It was blatantly obvious when Dukes reported with 9 minutes to go that this was not going to happen.

And The Plan's Plan-B? Maxwell, Bernadina, Mench, Taveras, ugh.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 22, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

And The Plan's Plan-B? Maxwell, Bernadina, Mench, Taveras, ugh.
remember ... possibly Desmond if Guzman
remains at short. I know what Rizzo said,
nevertheless Riggleman keeps putting him
out there. We'll have to see.

The Plan's Plan A? Michael Burgess in Harrisburg with Mike
Daniel as the next left-handed backup.

Posted by: periculum | March 22, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

If Guzman is healthy, then yeah, Desmond in RF is likely the best option we have.

Not sure how you feel about it now, but I'm not optimistic about Guzman's arm.

( I still think Marquis could play RF a couple days a week at least. That would be so totally throw-back.)

Posted by: Sunderland | March 22, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

So the point of this post is to mention the availability of a guy who nobody's talked about and who probably won't be signed?

There's no reason to sign Dye, unless you want to burn money on a guy who probably won't hit as well and definitely won't field as well as the (younger) platoon you already have.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Posted by: RIP-21 | March 22, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I would rather have Mench in RF than sign Dye or any of the options previously listed, except for Desmond, which I do not see happening right now based on Rizzo's comments.

Posted by: markfd | March 22, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I love this phrase: "...if the Nationals signed him, fell out of contention and wanted to deal him."

Fell out of contention? Be still my beating heart... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John1 | March 22, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what everyone is freaking out about, Wily Mo Pena is a still a free agent.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 22, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The way my boy Desmond is presently kicking the ball around at SS (3 errors in 2 games!), Riggs might be forced to consider him in RF.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | March 22, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Adam,

Dye's UZR/150 in 2009 was brutal. He can't play RF anymore, and Rizzo thinks he can get just as good production at the plate from a platoon for less money and with better defense.

Posted by: ericp331 | March 22, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

They aren't overloaded on pitching--they're overloaded on not-very-good pitching, which generally doesn't bring a MLB-average RF back in trade, no matter how much you throw in (www.boctaoe.com).

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Now, if they had Ernie Broglio ...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

But if nobody apparently needs Dye now, what makes one think anybody will need him in three or four months, besides injuries, and wouldn't Willingham bring more than Dye, assuming they both are having decent years?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

sec3mytsofa,

If you trade Willingham wouldn't the natural choice for left field be at this point be Desmond? Given that Destin Hood looks to be a long way off? And could Desmond play second base better than shortstop?

In right Dye doesn't seem to be a good answer. Not sure what is at this point. Maybe they bring back Austin Kearns if Cleveland cuts him?

Posted by: periculum | March 22, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

dmacman, Dukes has left the building. He's done. He doesn't work here anymore. He's been pattersoned, pink-slipped, shown the door, given his walking papers, let go, 86'd. He is an ex-Nat.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo may sign him for the primary reason of being able to deal him at the deadline - that is assuming the Nats are not contending for a spot in the playoffs - or the earth reverses orbit.

Posted by: nativedc | March 22, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Peric, I think it depends on who they get for Willingham--it's possible they'd get another starter from someone dumping age or salary, a la Morgan for Milledge. But if they trade him for prospects, I wouldn't mind Willie Harris's defense there, his lack of hitting notwithstanding, assuming the top of the order is still productive.
If Kearns were having any kind of a year at all in Cleveland, they'd probably keep him themselves, and if he isn't, we can't use him. Pick up a free agent over the next winter, if need be (yeah, I know--when pigs fly).

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

please stop with the dye stuff. as everyone said, his defense is beyond horrid. think barry bonds his last year or two in the field.

and his offense fell pretty far last season. his 2Bs dropped to half of what they were in 08. his AVG and SLG dropped significantly. and he's 36, it's not going to get better.

the team really left itself in a bind by dropping dukes (justified or not). if they had these discussions throughout the offseason, as they imply, there's no excuse for having the backup options they have now (and even if they didn't have those conversations, dukes hasn't made it through a healthy season yet). i think we've all undersold the OF issues all along, presuming that some guys would come into their own (dukes and bernadina/maxwell) and now that's what we're stuck with.

Posted by: sec231 | March 22, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

And all that assumes someone like Morse or Burgess or someone else doesn't come up to claim the RF job outright.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

In his blog today, Buster Olney writes, "Selig has the power to affect change on behalf of the Rays, too, through realignment. He needs to get Tampa Bay out of the AL East, to give the Rays a consistent opportunity for success. This, in time, will give them a chance to build their brand and make their case for a new ballpark.

There are many considerations that could come into play here. A quick thought is to drop add the Washington Nationals to the AL East and send Tampa to the NL -- it happened most recently when Milwaukee jumped from the AL to the NL Central. But the bottom line is many think realignment could do more for at least one team than a new stadium.

"Change can happen. Franchises can grow and gain strength; the Twins have shown this. For the Athletics and Rays, however, the Commissioner must lead the way, and sooner rather than later."

Posted by: ElBigChroizo | March 22, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

btw, if nobody will sign dye throughout spring training, what kind of value do you really think he has as a deadline deal? this isn't a guy who's still got a lot of bullets left who's just holding out for better money. it's just a guy who's at the end of his career. he's not worth a roster spot on the hopes that we could get some C grade prospect for at the deadline.

Posted by: sec231 | March 22, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

WHOA! That's it! Bonds!
**************
please stop with the dye stuff. as everyone said, his defense is beyond horrid. think barry bonds his last year or two in the field.
Posted by: sec231 | March 22, 2010 5:20 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Re: realignment. The NL is still overloaded since the Brewers moved anyway. Just contract both Florida teams and be done with it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I was kidding.
Sorta.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 22, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

My best guess: by September 2010, Marrero will be the starter at 1B and Burgess in RF. Dunn, Marquis, and possibly Willingham, will have been traded, and Guzman released. How we get from here to there is merely the warm-up act.

Posted by: BRG13 | March 22, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

i dont think the nats have crap in terms of Farm System OF prospects.

I concur that Kilgore overlooked Dyes terrible d.

Maybe someone would want one of our plethora of Number 5 pitchers?

Posted by: Cartaldo | March 22, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

MLB trade rumors is reporting that " Gary Sheffield is talking to a NL club, though it's not clear which one. "

The man is like 90 years old.

Posted by: Cartaldo | March 22, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

i'll take "other aging OFs i'm less interested in than dye" for $1000, cartaldo.

i don't know that i'd call our OF prospects "crap," but i would say guys who are close to major league ready in the OF is pretty slim pickins for 2010. and even 2011 would be less than certain, at best.

BRG, is that your best "guess" or your best "hope?"

Posted by: sec231 | March 22, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Jermaine Dye = no thanks; His skills are eroding faster than beachfront in a hurricane.
Gary Sheffield = Hell no. He has a long-earned reputation as a me-first, "clubhouse lawyer" type, dating all the way back to Milwaukee.

The team has six OF left in camp (Bernadina, Harris, Maxwell, Mench, Morse, Taveras). There's a viable offensive platoon in there somewhere, without sacrificing defense.

Posted by: BinM | March 22, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

any team that has to start a guy like Harris in right field has some major problems. what an outfield! a lard-ass in left, no power and always injured in center, and no stick whatsoever in right. we might actually miss Kearns. at least Dukes could resembled a starting right fielder.

the infield's a real gem too. another lard-ass at first, who hasn't even played the postion much. and there's the shortstop with an injured arm and an OBP barely above his batting average. with a bad attitude as an extra bonus. his backup isn't horrible except that he can only field ground balls on even-numbered days. and the catcher's at the age where some body part is almost garranteed to explode before he even has time to get a summer tan.

now let's discuss the team's real glaring weakness - pitching. oh man......

I think it's going to be pretty ugly at Nationals Park unless several players come out of nowhere to have crazy career years. and a couple of them had better be pitchers.

Posted by: stevie2 | March 23, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

lard-ass? Seriously?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 23, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Platoons usually work when both players are veterans and they have varied skills.

With the Nats, they have a group of light hitting players who are all still looking to break through at the major league level.

That to me is not a recipe for success.

I don't know what Dye's asking price is on a one year deal but he would add the power bat to the equation and then you could match him with a faster player that is better positionally in the outfield.

The danger of relying on the current stable of players is that you could easily end up with a lineup where NONE of these guys shows any power and all are batting in the .250s and .260s.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 23, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

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