Michael Morse and potential outfield targets will play a large role in that decision for the Nationals and general manager Mike Rizzo, but apparently, there's somebody I left out of the equation.
Bill Ladson of MLB.com would not be surprised if third baseman Ryan Zimmerman gets a crack at the first base job this offseason. This could potentially open up third base for Anthony Rendon, one of Washington's top prospects.
Zimmerman, a Gold Glove winner in 2009 at the hot corner, is one of the slickest fielding third basemen in the bigs. He contains soft hands, a strong arm and good reaction times when the ball comes off the bat.
Soft hands and reaction times translate well to first base, but it would almost be a waste of his arm to put him at first—at least at this point in his career.
I would not be opposed to such a move a few years down the line, but it's too early in his career for the Nationals to consider sliding him over to the other side of the diamond.
It's also entirely too early to begin considering Rendon for the major league club. He has played in just 43 career minor league games, only 21 of which came with Double-A Harrisburg. Combined, he hit .233/.363/.489 with six home runs and 12 RBI last season.
Rendon needs at least another year or two before being ready to step into a full-time role in Washington. At that point, Zimmerman could be a little more ready for a position change.
In the meantime, Tyler Moore, Morse or LaRoche are perfectly suitable options at first base.
Moore represents an intriguing option. The Nationals could save money by not retaining LaRoche while also seeing how well Moore handles an everyday job. Morse would be capable of spelling Moore on occasion, with Roger Bernadina taking over the left field duties.
Moore hit very well in spotty action this past season. In just 156 at-bats, he mashed 10 home runs and hit .263. Playing every day at first base could lead to big-time production from the 25-year-old (who'll be 26 by Opening Day).
As I mentioned in the earlier piece, the Nationals have plenty of avenues to explore this offseason. Fans are just hoping that Rizzo ends up making the right moves.
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