The people have spoken; Top needs for the #Nats 2018 roster

The fans have no “say” in the personnel decisions a team makes — but the fans often have a good perspective on the needs of the team. The previous article was a good discussion on just that subject. Sometimes suggestions are “spot on” but are payroll restrictive and just can’t happen. When you want a particular player, Mike Rizzo has said in the past that the obstacles are sometimes that “it takes two to tango” meaning both sides have to want it and in trades that means the other team and in free agency the player/agent.

Rizzo will address the team’s needs. There will be free agent signings in the bullpen, maybe even a big name to take some pressure off Doolittle. The Nats need a 5th starter in 2018 to replace Ross and in 2019 to replace Gio. This could be a free agent or a trade: MAT? The competitive balance penalty will play a part in Rizzo’s decisions, but, if he can get good value for the money, the Lerners may open their wallet.

This is just some of the hundreds of suggestions that encapsulates much of the thinking:

  1. Starting pitching depth looking for a #3 starter
  2. Another good arm in the bullpen. Some believe you still need a closer. Brandon Kintzler‘s name seems most prominent as he can set-up and has been a closer
  3. A catching upgrade. The dream is to get J.T. Realmuto in a trade. We’ve floated this idea for over a month. At first people laughed, but a -1.1 catching WAR in 2017 was no laughing matter. If you can’t get Realmuto, there are plenty of free agent catchers like Jonathan LucroyRene Rivera, Nick Hundley, and Alex Avila
  4. A bench bat who can play 1st base; some have mentioned Jayson Werth taking over the Chris Heisey role and getting a 1st baseman’s glove. The issue would be the salary. Heisey made $1.4 million last year. Matt Adams has been mentioned as a non-tender by the Braves, and of course there could be a reunion with Adam Lind.
  5. A #5 starting pitcher or at least legitimate depth built-up in Triple-A Syracuse
  6. A plan B if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready for Opening Day. That plan B sounds like Wilmer Difo which then opens up the need for a bench 2nd baseman
  7. Fill the holes via a trade. We have seen Michael A. Taylor’s name mentioned the most as a “sell high” along with Gio Gonzalez. Then there is PowerBoater69 who mentioned trading Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper. Some have suggested a Giancarlo Stanton swap for Bryce Harper which will not happen.
  8. The chances of any of these trades happening go from a 0.0001% chance of Ryan Zimmerman getting traded to slightly more than that on a Michael A. Taylor trade — however, the lack of centerfield depth on the Free Agent market is awful. There is only one player who had more than 100 hits and that is Lorenzo Cain. The next tier are risky in Carlos Gomez, Ben Revere, Cameron Maybin and Austin Jackson. It boosts Michael Taylor to the top of the heap there. Many teams need a competent centerfielder and Taylor was a +3.1 fWAR in 2017 and MAT missed 44 games! Cain played 155 games and had a +4.1 fWAR. Do some interpolation and extrapolation and voila, Taylor was probably a top 10 talent and even without that, Fangraphs rated MAT as #12 of all centerfielders in WAR.

The Hot Stove is ready to percolate. The GM Meetings set much of the groundwork, and as Mike Rizzo has shown he will make moves — even big moves after Spring Training begins as we saw last year with Matt Wieters. Rizzo does most of his work now and finalizes those efforts during the Winter Meetings and about 2 weeks after that.

For now it is a wait and see on what Mike Rizzo gets done. As always, stay tuned.

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