The Washington Nationals are in an interesting position as they enter the offseason. Their team is set up for success but fell a bit short this season.
They do not have many holes in their roster, but there certainly are a few areas in which they can improve to push them over the hump and past the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
With a nucleus of star players under contract in the outfield, the Nationals will be able to focus on simply filling a hole here and there in order to get to that next level.
Let's take a look at the three biggest needs as the Nationals enter the offseason.
The Nationals could use a lefty out of the bullpen, and what better lefty free agent then Oliver Perez?
Perez revitalized his career in Seattle this season and has shown that he can be a pivotal part of a bullpen.
Perez struggled in the second half of the season, but pitched to a 1.74 ERA in the first half. If he is on a contending team and used correctly throughout the year, he could prove to be an important part of the Nationals playoff hopes.
The Nats are not looking to Danny Espinosa to be the future at second base, and Anthony Rendon is a natural third baseman, so the logical thing to do is move Rendon to third, Ryan Zimmerman to first base and trade Adam LaRoche.
Zimmerman's shoulder issues have clearly altered his throwing motion and a move to first base could improve his physical health drastically. If the Nats went with this route, second base would be vacant and the Nationals could become a player in the Robinson Cano sweepstakes.
Although Cano is looking for an astronomical contract, it does not appear that many teams seem to be interested in taking the bait. This will allow the price and years to be lowered and the Nationals to become more serious players in the Cano talks.
Cano carried the Yankees this season and in a lineup that consists of names like Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Zimmerman, Cano could be an incredible fit for this lineup.
Dan Haren did not seem to be a fit in D.C., and unless the price is right, it does not appear that he will be back in Washington.
There are a ton of pitchers out there that the Nationals can look at in the free agent market, including Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum. All can be logical targets for the Nationals, but Santana and Garza should top the list for the team.
Both pitchers have been consistent throughout their careers and should fit perfectly into the Nationals rotation. Another name that might come up is Bronson Arroyo, who is a bit older than these guys listed above.
Arroyo is the model of consistency and can certainly help the Nationals. He will likely be a bit more affordable for the Nationals and will not be looking for as many years.
The question becomes, do the Nationals want to lock up Santana or Garza to long term deals or settle for another one or two year contract for 37-year old Arroyo?
Any of them should be an upgrade from Haren, especially Santana, who appears to be entering the prime of his career.