Could the Nats pivot to an infielder as their top acquisition?

Photo by Laura Peebles for TalkNats

Mum’s the word. There has been little chatter from general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez of the Washington Nationals this offseason. Our sourced intel has produced little as to the direction of acquisitions as the information is being held close to the vest. We have had to rely on actions more than anything through the few roster moves and coaching changes. The rest is based on our own analytics as to how to fill the holes.

Based on the analytics — and the obvious — the team is in need of a big bat in the lineup after Juan Soto. Most likely the team will not acquire Marcell Ozuna or George Springer, but conventional wisdom is that Rizzo will be in the bidding. Those are the big right-handed outfield bats with Michael Brantley and Joc Pederson as the big lefty bats in the outfield, although Pederson can also play first base. Maybe the thinking can pivot to a big bat in the infield.

Think about the names like DJ LeMahieu who can play second base, third base and first base. There is Justin Turner who is a top third baseman although many think he will return to the Dodgers. Yes, there is also J.T. Realmuto who is seen as the big positional player prize. In the next tier is the switch-hitting Carlos Santana who is coming off of a lackluster season.

What about Nelson Cruz if there was a DH in the NL? Probably not but it is still in the realm of possibilities. For that matter there is  Ha-Seong Kim  from the KBO, and again unlikely. Didi Gregorius and Kolten Wong are also unlikely for the Nats. One intriguing name tied to the Nats before was Tommy LaStella who can play multiple positions but he is a lefty batter and at 5’11” is not optimal as a first baseman as some have suggested. There is also James McCann as another catching possibility along with Wilson Ramos, but neither really would be the bat you want directly behind Soto.

For Rizzo, he seems to get tied back to old names he once pursued like Realmuto or even pitchers like Rich Hill and Alex Wood. Additionally, Rizzo at this time of the year gets tied to Scott Boras clients so you can expect James Paxton‘s name as a rumor to D.C.

One of the simpler names out there is Kevin Pillar who would fit in well if the Nats went with Andrew Stevenson as their presumptive third outfield starter. When the team did that early non-tender of Michael A. Taylor, it signaled that Stevenson would either be a bench player or a starter on the 2021 team.

Perhaps Rizzo will try a trade with salary relief for a high priced veteran and the Nats were tied in rumors to Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant last year. Arenado is owed just under $200 million for six more seasons and he has an opt-out, and Bryant is on his final year of arbitration with the Cubs and MLBTR has him making $18.6 million. Both players could get some salary relief paid by the departing team to make it more attractive, but Bryant would be just a one-year deal as he will be eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.

Certainly there are more options. As you can see, there are certainly more names and fits in the infield than there appear to be in the outfield for the Nats. We are just seventeen days away from the non-tender deadline and more names could splash into the free agent pool. A week from Thursday is Thanksgiving, and teams do not seem to be in a hurry to make any moves. With freezing temperatures sweeping along the northern states, the Hot Stove is ice cold.


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