Entering the 2013 campaign, the Washington Nationals expected to still be playing at this point in the season. That's not the case, leading some to clamor for major overhaul in Washington -- and not only on Capitol Hill. While the Nationals are clearly disappointed in the season that recently ended, general manager Mike Rizzo told Amanda Comak of the Washington Times that he believes the team's core group is "set up pretty good."
“A manager is going to have input on what we do with the
roster construction and that type of thing,” Rizzo said. “But I think the team,
as far as the core group, is set up pretty good. The core rotation and the core
bullpen is set up pretty good. We’re going to look to obviously better
ourselves in any way we can. We’ll probably look to improve the bullpen, see if
we can improve the bench a little bit. And any other way that we can improve
the everyday lineup, if there’s any way we can do that, we’ll certainly look
into that also.”
With Davey Johnson stepping away from the game, the Nationals first priority will be hiring a new manager. It shouldn't be hard to lure someone to Washington considering the team's makeup and potential, but beyond the initial hiring of a skipper Washington's path isn't certain.
Rizzo indicatd that the Nationals could look to bolster their bullpen and bench, but he believes the core bullpen and rotation are set up well for the future. Washington was middle-of-the-pack offensively, but they do have a solid core of positions players, including Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Denard Span.
Comak expects the team to look first to bolster the bullpen and add bench depth. She lists starting pitching as another potential target, as Dan Haren is on his way out. With Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Ross Detwiler -- who's expected to return healthy for next season -- the Nationals have four rotation spots filled.
Washington could plug in a young arm from their system -- Taylor Jordan or Tanner Roark -- or look elsewhere in-house with Ross Ohlendorf. If they go outside the organization, the Nationals' options would include free agents such as Bronson Arroyo, Hiroki Kuroda, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza. Comak also mentions Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price, but that would appear to be a long shot.
Beyond acquisitions, Comak notes that the Nationals could also look to extend their own players. Several players -- including Zimmermann and Desmond -- are entering their second-to-last year of arbitration, and they could each become the target of extensions this winter.
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