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It became obvious in 2012 that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has built a long-term contender in Washington. He could have done nothing this winter, and the Nats still would have been in very good shape in 2013.
Rizzo hasn't done nothing. He hasn't done much, mind you, but the moves he's made have made the Nationals a better team than they already were.
The club's acquisition of Denard Span was an excellent move. He's a very good defensive center fielder whose presence will allow Davey Johnson to play Bryce Harper in right field, a position perfectly suited to his skill set.
Span is also the natural leadoff hitter that Washington's lineup never really had in 2012. His solid on-base skills and top-notch baserunning will come in handy in front of the club's big boppers.
To replace the departed Edwin Jackson, Rizzo brought in veteran right-hander Dan Haren on a one-year deal worth $13 million. Back problems held Haren back in 2012, but he was one of the league's top pitchers between 2007 and 2011, posting a 3.33 ERA and compiling a 4.68 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If his health returns, the Nats are going to have one of baseball's deepest starting rotations.
Elsewhere, Rizzo deserves credit for waiting out first baseman Adam LaRoche and getting him to agree to a surprisingly team-friendly two-year deal worth $24 million with a mutual option for 2015.
The LaRoche deal will allow Rizzo to trade Mike Morse for needed players, which will only make Washington's offseason better.
On Tuesday, Rizzo added reliever Rafael Soriano on a two-year, $28 million deal. Although Rizzo overpaid, as the Yankees declined Soriano's $14 million option, the 33-year-old will bring a lot to an already strong Nationals bullpen.
Rizzo will have had an excellent offseason once that trade goes down. For now, he's already done well enough.