The Washington Nationals are the World Series champs, and that should give General Manager Mike Rizzo a little bit of extra time on assembling his 2020 roster. He indicated that he would move swiftly after the Winter Meetings, but now he is in a wait and see mode on Josh Donaldson we have been told according to a source.
Rumors have swirled for days that Donaldson was seeking a four-year deal and this is after he just completed a one-year deal with the Braves in which he proved he could stay healthy with no issues with his shoulder or calf which has sidelined him in the past. Donaldson is the top infielder remaining in free agency, but there are also rumors that Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado could be available via trades. So Donaldson is not the only option, and there could be others although circumstances have most likely changed in Cleveland and Arizona on any chances of prying away Jose Ramirez or Eduardo Escobar who were two third baseman we were told Rizzo check in on availability.
“I think the market is always driven by supply and demand and I think people are feeling this offseason more so than in the past that they want to get the player they want and make sure that he doesn’t leave the market,” Rizzo said.
So now we wait. Mike Rizzo would probably do three years today for Donaldson and maybe throw in a fourth year vesting option, but Rizzo is also in a position where his team only has $30+ million to spend before they reach the top of the CBT cap at $208 million, and yes, the team wants to stay under that with other holes to fill.
So where does Rizzo go with this? The infield right now has two sure things: Trea Turner and Howie Kendrick. After those two veteran players, manager Dave Martinez has role players from his 2019 team like Wilmer Difo, Carter Kieboom, Adrian Sanchez and Jake Noll. Of course they could do nothing and go into Spring Training and compete for third or fourth place with the roster as currently assembled. But we all know that Rizzo will add veteran players through free agency and/or trade.
“We’re looking for an infielder, and we have the flexibility to be able to have that infielder be a third baseman or a second baseman,” Rizzo said. “So we like that flexibility, but that’s one of those things that is on our wish list, is to get ourselves a veteran infielder to go along with one of our younger players.”
This team has now earned the right as the World Series champs to follow their path and see where it goes. Maybe in the end it is Carter Kieboom playing third base with a free agent acquisition plugged in at second base or maybe Rizzo gets his thump added at first base. As always, many paths can lead you to success. As we saw after Bryce Harper departed, the Nationals path was not trying to find one player to fit into the outfield to try to replicate his 100 RBI production, rather the team added Victor Robles to the starting role and beefed up second base with Brian Dozier, and the catcher position with Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes then spent the most money on pitching last year with the signing of Patrick Corbin. All in all, it worked and in-season acquisitions plugged other holes.
The Nationals 40-man roster has seven vacancies, and whether or not Josh Donaldson takes one of those spots we will have to wait and see.