The Offseason Is Far From Over
Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in roughly five weeks and that makes it tempting to start analyzing the Washington Nationals offseason. I thought of doing this exact thing the other day. I used to do a fun little exercise before every season where I would look at the Nats record in the previous season and add or subtract wins based upon what I thought were logical changes. As of right now if I tried to do that I'd be at a loss when it comes to catcher, the bullpen, and possibly the outfield. Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon remain on the Nats roster, the Nats are rumored to be looking for a catcher, and have made multiple attempts to sign or trade for outfielders that remain unsigned or untraded.
To put this in more simple terms if you're ready to look at the Nats offseason and are unsatisfied with the acquisitions up to this point you're forgetting the simple reality that this baseball offseason has moved slower than any others. While the Nats were one of the teams willing to pay close to or over $200 million for Jason Heyward that might be what brought the outfield market to a screeching halt. Jason Heyward is not as good a hitter as Cespedes or Upton and those are the two biggest free agent's yet unsigned. Jason Heyward got paid for his defense and the agents of Cespedes and Upton are right to argue along the lines of Upton and Cespedes' offensive value.
With Span getting a three year deal yesterday that could slow down the outfield market even more. It was reported earlier this week that Upton was starting to get one year deals and was possibly considering them. Justin Upton is a 28 year old outfielder with a career .825 OPS. He should be looking at a seven or eight year deal for at least $150 million, but he has been lost in this offseason and has barely garnered much attention. Justin Upton is very likely to be the biggest bargain of the offseason.
On the other side is Cespedes. Coming off a second half that had some talking MVP for his two months with the Mets it felt like Cespedes was due a big payday and could be the most overpaid free agent this offseason. Instead his market has been as silent as Upton's. It is hard to figure this many big free agents on the market this late in the offseason, but here we are and Upton and Cespedes aren't the only players the Nats could use and could come at a bargain.
The Nats have been linked to multiple unnamed catchers, Wei-Yin Chen, and trades for Carlo Gonzalez or Justin Blackmon from the Rockies. The offseason is approaching it's end but it isn't at the end yet and there are a lot of moves left to happen. Mike Rizzo and the Nats seemingly always have a surprise move up their sleeves and with how this offseason has gone now could be the best time to pull something off. I've always felt that Justin Upton is a great match for the Nationals and it might take a couple other outfielders to go before their markets come together or the Nats could go back to the Reds and offer the prospects they were going to trade for Brandon Phillips for Jay Bruce. 40 days isn't a long time, but it is time enough for the Nats to polish off their offseason and have a different looking roster when pitchers and catchers report than they do on January 8th.