How the Washington Nationals approach this off-season will be dependent on the money that general manager Mike Rizzo has to spend, and the players who will say “yes” to him. As they say, “It takes two to tango” which basically means that Rizzo might target a free agent or a trade deal that does not work out for a variety of reasons. Per our projections, we have the Nationals payroll at $161 million currently based on the AAV accounting method.
Our question to you, how would you spend Lerner’s money if we gave you $39 million to spend? Get creative with the AAV and deferrals. Don’t forget that you can include a contract extension in your numbers as well.
It appears the Nationals have at least six open spots on the 26-man roster and thirty players on the 40-man roster. But certainly you could decide the Nationals should keep Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia in the minors and add a third baseman like Justin Turner for an example. Along the same lines, you might decide you want Jake Noll to start in the minors and you want to add Ryan Zimmerman. Maybe you will add six-to-eight players from outside of the organization.
For example if you wanted the Nats to add Marcell Ozuna for five years and $80 million with a 2021 salary of $12 million that would be a small effect on the AAV calculaton, but maybe the Lerners would be amenable to those type of deals which help in 2021 cashflow. That would have a straight-line effect of $16 million a year.
There are a myriad of factors that will affect these numbers, and the Nats will almost certainly wait for non-tenders and the trade market to expand before making moves.
Have fun with this and you can use the dollars projected by MLBTR as a guide on the free agents for the dollars it might take to acquire players.
Our sources believe the Nats will get at least to $180 million in payroll (AAV) for the 2021 season with an upside near $190 million. This is an evolving number as revenue projections could push this higher or lower.