Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
On Oct. 1, Amanda Comak of The Washington Times discussed the Nationals' need for a left-handed reliever, saying that "perhaps the Nationals will wade into the free-agent pool here again and try to secure someone like J.P. Howell, who turned the Nationals down last year in favor of a one-year deal with the Dodgers, or Oliver Perez, who has reinvented himself as a reliever the last two seasons."
If you ask me, Washington should not waste their time with Howell. He rebuffed the Nats last year, so the Nats should return the favor this year.
To fill the hole caused by the impending departure of Dan Haren, the Nationals could also look beyond their own organization for a replacement. Comak wrote that "the free-agent crop is also filled with veteran starters like Bronson Arroyo and Hiroki Kuroda, or players who’ll likely command more years and dollars, like Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza."
Here's my two cents. Arroyo would be a perfect candidate to carry the torch once held by Haren and Edwin Jackson before him. And since the Nats are looking for a fourth starter and not a second or third starter, they should pass on Santana, Nolasco and Garza.
Finally, there is a very intriguing international free agent that the Nationals may be able to land.
Jose Dariel Abreu (pictured) is a power-hitting first baseman from Cuba who represented his native country at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Ben Badler of Baseball America detailed his WBC performance, writing that "Abreu went 9-for-25 with three home runs, one double, no walks and five strikeouts to compile a .360/.385/.760 line in six games." Badler predicts that "with the Nationals likely to be in playoff contention next year, Abreu could be a fit."
Now, I don't think the Nationals will make this big of a splash during the 2013-14 offseason. However, Abreu would be a tempting offensive upgrade at first base.