The Washington Nationals are officially out of the playoff race and will prematurely switch their thoughts to what the offseason has in store. There are a ton of big name free agents entering the offseason, and it will be interesting to see which ones the Nationals are going to show interest in.
The Nationals showed the cohesion in their team in the second half, but nonetheless, were not able to make the postseason. If the Nationals decide to make some moves, there are a few guys who will top the list.
The Nationals are no stranger to long term, high paying deals either, so everyone is in play. Jayson Werth was signed to a seven-year, $126 million deal and Ryan Zimmerman was given a six-year, $100 million deal. The Nats have also acquired big name's such as Alfonso Soriano and Adam Dunn in the past, so GM Mike Rizzo has no shame in going for the big signing.
Given than, let's take a look at three free agents that the Nats will be targeting this winter.
Nolasco is incredibly familiar with the division and has shown that a change of scenery was what he needed. Nolasco is making $11.5 million this season and is going to sign a deal making more than that after his impressive showing in L.A.
The Nationals took the gamble on Dan Haren last season and lost. This is a much safer investment, even though it will cost a bit more. Nolasco can drastically improve the team and take Haren's spot in the rotation.
The Nationals decided to bring back Adam LaRoche last season with a two-year, $24 million deal that is not looking great after one season. The Nationals need to work on moving LaRoche, which will likely result in them eating a handful of his salary, but it needs to be done.
If he is moved out of D.C., one of the biggest targets that the Nationals need to focus on is Mike Napoli.
Napoli is going to have a huge pay day this offseason, after being forced to take a one-year, $5 million deal with $8 million in incentives. The deal was originally a three-year, $39 million deal until a hip degeneration was discovered in his physical.
That ultimately might have earned him more money after the fantastic season he is having in Boston.
Napoli will be looking at a big payday and the Nationals would be a perfect fit for him. He is a slugging first baseman who hits to all fields and can single-handedly turn a game around. Throw him in a lineup with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, just to name a few, and the Nationals will look like an unstoppable offense.
If the Nats can snag the next guy along with Napoli, they could have one of the most dynamic lineups in all of baseball.
Robinson Cano is going to sign a huge contract with someone this offseason. There is certainly no guarantee that the New York Yankees sign him to a huge deal, therefore it leaves some room for other teams to get involved.
The Nationals could undoubtedly use a second baseman, especially one of Cano's caliber.
The 30-year-old second baseman would fill the void in the lineup for the Nationals and would provide some amazing pop. He has hit at least 25 home runs in each of the last five seasons and has eclipsed 40-plus doubles in a season six times in his career, and is two doubles away from making it a seventh in 2013.
His career .309 average would be perfect for a team that has a tremendous offense already, but also for an offense that does not have a high team batting average.
His offense comes in addition to his stellar defense. Although he has been given the lackadaisical tag while playing the field, it is imperative to realize that he looks the way he does while making plays because it comes so easy to him.
A statistic that quantifies defensive characteristics from baseball-reference.com, is range factor per games played at second base. This is a total of putouts and assists divided by games played. Cano ranked first in 2011 and 2012 and is ranked fifth in his career among active players.
He is certainly the best all around player available this offseason, and probably for a few offseasons to come. Cano fills the only real void that the Nats have and is more than a perfect fit.