The Washington Nationals have been rumored to have interest in center fielders this offseason—namely Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton—but general manager Mike Rizzo should not limit himself to just that outfield position.
Bryce Harper, while not a true center fielder, is a perfectly capable athlete at that position. He has the speed and the arm, all that needs work is his ability to read the ball off the bat, which will come with increased practice.
With that being said, Rizzo should consider going after right fielder Nick Swisher. Such a signing would move Jayson Werth over to left field, a position that he is perfectly capable of playing.
Then Rizzo has the option of moving Michael Morse to first base or re-signing Adam LaRoche. Morse would become a trade candidate if LaRoche were brought back.
Swisher is the perfect fit for the Nationals' lineup.
He is an established hitter in the big leagues and plays a serviceable right field. He won't impress you with his defense, but he likely won't embarrass the Nationals all that much either.
Swisher makes his money with the bat and, ironically, he is reportedly seeking Werth-like dollars this offseason.
With Swisher in the lineup, the Nationals become that much deeper offensively. Here's what a potential lineup would look like (this lineup has LaRoche, though Morse would likely hit in the same spot):
1. Werth, LF
2. Swisher, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. LaRoche, 1B
5. Harper, CF
6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Danny Espinosa/Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
8. Kurt Suzuki, C
Harper and Swisher would likely be interchangeable in Davey Johnson's 2013 lineup, but much more will be expected of Harper power-wise during the upcoming season. That alone could propel Johnson to bat him fifth initially.
At this point, you're probably asking what Swisher brings to the table that the Nationals don't already have. Well, for starters, Swisher owns a career line of .256/.361/.467 with 209 home runs and 673 RBI.
He's hit over 20 home runs in eight consecutive seasons and has driven in at least 70 runs in seven of the last eight seasons. The only season he did not record at least 70 was in 2008 when he drove in 69 with the Chicago White Sox.
Batting second, he will see plenty of pitches to hit in front of the "big three" in the lineup. He won't be aggressive, though. His .361 career on-base percentage illustrates his patience at the plate. This patience would lead to more RBI opportunities for the middle of the lineup.
Swisher's presence in the lineup would help to make the Nationals arguably the deepest lineup in the National League. That, coupled with their stellar pitching, would almost guarantee the Nationals another playoff berth in 2013.
However, Swisher is notoriously a poor postseason performer. That fact cannot be denied at this stage in his career. There could be hope, however.
Struggling in the postseason as a New York Yankee can take its toll on a player. The pressure from fans, coaches and management are enough to force players to try entirely too hard. For those of you who have played baseball, you know that trying too hard generally leads to worse results.
There is not nearly the same level of pressure with the Nationals. Fans will be immediately attracted to Swisher's fun-loving mentality, and that will lead to some leniency in his first postseason.
A relaxed Swisher should bring solid postseason results.
Rizzo would be wise to consider bringing Swisher to Washington. He'd bring cohesiveness to the lineup, while also bringing his fun mentality into a young clubhouse. He's a perfect fit for the Nationals.