The Washington Nationals seem to have a steady foundation going into next season and are luckily not dealing with a plethora of free agents. They are, however, dealing with a few players nearing the end of their contracts within the next couple of years, such as Rafael Soriano and Adam LaRoche.
The Nationals are in a position that trading a couple of these players with expiring contracts will open a door and allow the Nationals to sign bigger pieces or to bring up some young talent in 2014.
These players are going to be a target of debate in D.C., so let's take a look at the players who might be brought up in free agency and trade talks as the long offseason begins.
Adam LaRoche signed a two-year, $24 million contract last offseason with the Nationals.
LaRoche did not come close to performing in the way that the Nationals would have liked in 2013. He can still play first base, but trading him would open the door for the Nats to bring in a better first baseman.
It won't be easy to deal LaRoche because of the amount that he is owed next season, but there should be a team willing to deal if the Nationals can eat some of his salary. It would be an admission of a failed venture, but it could ultimately allow them to acquire significant talent at first base.
Dan Haren will become a free agent and will not be re-signed by the Nationals. Haren had a subpar year, despite salvaging the end of the season.
Unless the Nationals re-sign Haren at a significantly discounted rate, it is more likely that the Nationals will use Ross Ohlendorf to fill the fifth spot in their rotation or acquire an arm elsewhere.
Haren was able to gut the Nats for $13 million in 2013 and he was not worth nearly that much.
While Rafael Soriano is not a talked-about commodity, he is scheduled to make $11 million in 2014 before 2015 when the team has a $14 million option.
Soriano was great last season and the Nationals might consider dealing Soriano's large contract to acquire an arm for the bullpen and potentially move Tyler Clippard to the closer role. The amount of money that they save by trading Soriano would allow them to put more money into a free agent who they could be in play for, such as a Robinson Cano.
Danny Espinosa had an abysmal 2013 that included an awful offensive season, a trip to the DL and then staying in the minors even after September call-ups.
The Nationals could not have made it more clear that they are going to move on and look to move Espinosa.
There will be a team that is willing to take the chance on Espinosa and try to tweak his mechanics in hopes of improving his strikeout rate and batting average, but it will not be the Nats. If the Nationals do not make a bid on Cano, they are content letting Anthony Rendon play second base.