The Washington Nationals are interested in Mark De Rosa.
I’m going to let that one sink in for just a minute before I continue.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I believe that the Nationals have to hit the free agent market hard this offseason for them to hope to maintain some gravitas with their fans. But in what timeline or alternative universe would the signing of De Rosa make any sense?
The whole concept of “The Plan” is to plant the seeds of future stardom in the minor leagues and then harvest the best and trade the rest.
While that’s happening, the team will then make trades to better the team.
And when the team is ready to contend, the cash vault will be opened and the team will buy what it needs to win a World Series.
So under which of those three scenarios does it make sense to sign Mark De Rosa?
I remember De Rosa from my days as a Braves’ fan. He was an acceptable backup infielder but never got more than 345 at-bats in a season in his seven years with Atlanta. He averaged .266-2-14 per season.
He signed as a free agent with the Rangers in 2005 and did pretty well in his two seasons in Texas, averaging .284-10-47 as a semi-regular. De Rosa signed with the Cubs as a free agent in 2007, and in his two seasons there, got even better. He was a starter with Chicago and averaged .289-17-87 with a .389 on-base percentage.
Last year, split between the Cleveland and St. Louis, De Rosa batted .250-23-78 with a .319 on-base percentage. He played first base, third, left, and right field.
Mark De Rosa will be 35 next season. He made $5 million last year. He should make a lot more in 2010.
Obviously, he wouldn’t be a corner infielder for the Nationals; Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn might have something to say about that. He could play second, but his defensive numbers there haven’t been particularly impressive. He’s a pretty good outfielder though.
Would make sense to play De Rosa in right instead of Elijah Dukes?
I like Mark De Rosa, but at 35, he will be long gone before the Nationals become a contending team. His numbers slid dramatically in the second half of 2009, which might indicate he’s starting to slow down.
Currently, De Rosa is asking for a three-year/$27 million contract. That would make him the second highest paid National, just a tinch behind slugger Adam Dunn.
Of course De Rosa’s asking price would have to come way down, but how far is he willing to go? Even at a third-off, at $6 million a year, he’s still overpriced.
I’d be happy if the Nationals signed Mark De Rosa if (if)—if—they also signed two quality starting pitchers, say Randy Wolf and Jon Garland.
Now let’s think about this for a moment. The three of them would probably cost about $24 million.
Wait a minute. How much did the Nationals save by trading/saying goodbye to Nick Johnson, Austin Kearns, Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young? Wasn’t it about $24 million?
Hmmm. So the Nationals could have a starting rotation of John Lannan, Jon Garland, Randy Wolf, Stephen Strasburg and J.D. Martin/Ross Detwiler, and have Mark DeRosa play second base, and the Nationals wouldn’t increase their payroll by even a dime?
Oh wait, I forgot. That just wouldn’t make any sense, now would it?