3 Dream Free-Agent Pickups for Washington Nationals

Robert Wood@@bleachRWreachrCorrespondent INovember 8, 2013

3 Dream Free-Agent Pickups for Washington Nationals

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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

    For Washington Nationals fans, the MLB offseason is the time to dream. 

    Nats fans can dream about the season that could have been or the season that is yet to come. Or perhaps they can dream about the free agents who will help the team next season. 

    Of course, some potential free-agent signings are just that: a dream. A mirage. A figment of the imagination. 

    Thankfully for Nats fans, it is only Nov. 8. The offseason alarm clock won't go off for another five months. So keep dreaming. 

    On that note, here are three dream free-agent pickups for the Washington Nationals this offseason. 

    Note: All statistics courtesy of MLB.com unless noted otherwise. 

3. Robinson Cano, 2B

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Imagine for a second that Mike Rizzo and the Nationals have changed their minds about using Anthony Rendon as their everyday second baseman and decided to make a splash in the free-agent market instead. 

    This scenario is not as far-fetched as you might think. 

    Jonathan Bernhardt for SportsOnEarth.com wrote that of the multiple teams bidding for the services of New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the Nationals have "a paper need but probably not the payroll space to bring Cano on board." 

    To that point, Bernhardt added that "Cano is looking to land an outrageous deal in the quarter-billion dollar range that will keep him locked up through his late thirties."

    The Nationals had a 2013 payroll of $118.3 million, and only have $81 million on the books for the 2014 season, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. If they wish for their World Series dreams to come true, then they'll make some payroll space for Cano. After all, the guy hit .314 in 605 at-bats in more than 160 games in 2013, with 27 home runs, 107 RBI and an .899 OPS. 

    He's worth every penny. 

2. Mike Napoli, 1B

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    For Nationals fans who think the team should make an offensive upgrade at first base, Mike Napoli may be the guy to make it happen. 

    Take a look at the 2013 statistics for Napoli versus those of Adam LaRoche, the incumbent first baseman for the Nationals: 

    Mike Napoli13949879239273187.259.360.482
    Adam LaRoche15251170206272131.237.332.403

    If you're worried about a drop-off in defense if the Nats were to switch from a Gold Glove first baseman to a former catcher, don't be. 

    Here are the 2013 defensive statistics at first base for both Napoli and LaRoche: 

    Mike Napoli1311231097.11069976876968.11.994
    Adam LaRoche1491431272.01251116476111178.32.991

    As for the fiduciary aspects of this comparison, Napoli earned $13 million in 2013 after meeting all incentive requirements, according to The Boston Globe. Meanwhile, LaRoche earned $12 million in 2013, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts

    The Nationals may have to shell out more than $13 million per season to land Napoli. Lindsay Berra of MLB.com wrote on Oct. 20 that "this time around, though, Napoli has proof that the hip issues that turned his three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox into a one-year contract worth $5 million plus incentives that pushed it up to $13 million, won't be holding him back." 

1. Matt Garza SP

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Nationals fans entering the offseason must feel like they have woken up to the same song on their alarm clock every single morning, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. For the third offseason in a row, their team is once again searching for a fourth starter to fill out their rotation. 

    In his ranking of 2014 Top 50 Free Agents with Predictions, Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com predicted that Matt Garza would be the free agent that the Nationals choose to fill the fourth spot in the rotation. Dierkes described Garza as "a hard thrower who has consistently posted sub-4.00 ERAs, with good K/BB ratios in recent years," adding that "the Nationals figure to bring in some kind of starter."

    Garza fits the bill. Compare him and his 2013 statistics with the last two free-agent starters whom the Nationals signed and the stats they posted in the season before they signed with Washington: 

    Edwin Jackson2011CHW/STL1293.793231199.262148.2721.44
    Dan Haren2012LAA12134.333030176.238142.2751.29
    Matt Garza2013CHC/TEX1063.822424155.142136.2531.24

    Jackson's 2012 contract was worth $11 million and Haren's 2013 contract was worth $13 million, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Keeping with this pattern, Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com expects Garza to sign a "projected four-year deal in excess of $60 million." 

    For the Nationals, repeating this pattern has become more and more expensive each time. Plus, their dreams of a solid performance from the fourth spot in the rotation have yielded nightmarish performances.

    Maybe this time the radio will play something other than "I Got You Babe" when Nationals fans wake up from their offseason slumber. 


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