Top Two Starting Pitchers to Target:
John Lackey (Type A Free Agent) - Lackey is a big game pitcher, and had yet another effective postseason with the Angels (2.29 ERA, 1-1 W/L). Lackey is a Type A Free Agent, meaning the Angels will be compensated with 2 draft selections should he sign with another club (the Nats second rounder and compensatory selection). The big righty has 102 career wins, with a 3.81 career ERA; most importantly he's only allowed 20+ HRs in a season once in the previous 5 seasons. Lackey doesn't walk a lot of hitters, but his career SO/BB ratio is a shade under 3:1 for his career (2.7:1). Putting Lackey in a rotation with Lannan, Zimmermann, Strasburg and J.D. Martin certainly wouldn't be a bad addition. He'd certainly have the veteran experience and big game ability to be the team's ace.
Jason Marquis (Type B Free Agent) - Marquis isn't quite the pitcher Lackey is; The former Brave walks a lot of batters and struggles with his SO:BB ratio (1.5:1 for his career). Marquis also gives up a lot of home runs historically; however, last season he allowed just 15 while playing with the Rockies (and with the Cubs in 2008 he allowed just 15 as well). He's started in 30+ games the past 5 of 6 seasons and has topped 200+ innings 3 times in his career. With his improved ability to keep the ball in the yard, Marquis would make a fairly solid middle of the rotation addition to the Nats staff. The Rockies will be compensated with a draft selection should Marquis sign with another club, due to his Type B Free Agent tag.
Top Two Relief Pitchers to Target:
Mike Gonzalez (Type A Free Agent) - Gonzalez was the best part of the Braves bullpen, being reliable and durable pitching in 80 contests in 2009. Being a Type A Free Agent (along with Braves closer Rafael Soriano) make it a possibility that Gonzalez could be wearing new colours in 2010. The Nationals need a solid, reliable arm in the bullpen (as we all know), and making Gonzalez the set up man would make the 7th or 8th inning a little more relaxing for fans. Gonzalez also makes a good closer if pressed into duties, but thrives as the set up man. Allowing just 22 HRs in his career is impressive, and Gonzalez can mow down hitters, striking out 90 in 74.1 innings last season. Did I mention he's a lefty?
Bob Howry (Type B Free Agent) - Howry is a grizzled veteran that would add a great presence to our bullpen. He's pitched in 60+ games the previous 5 seasons (4 were 70+ game seasons). Howry allows the long ball on occasion, despite holding opponents to 5 in 2009. His 23 walks in 2009 were the most he's had in a year since 2002, and our bullpen definitely needs someone to keep runners off the base paths. Howry doesn't strike out a lot of batters, but with his low walk totals he's an effective "ball-in-play" pitcher recording outs.
The problem with my list:
I've listed Type A and B free agents, meaning these options may not exist should these players accept arbitration from their current clubs. Further complicating matters is the fact that these players may have absolutely no interest in joining a 103-loss ball club. However, since the Nationals own a top 15 draft selection, they will only have to yeild a second round choice to the team they sign a Type A free agent from. In this case, I think signing Mike Gonzalez over John Lackey would be the better choice and targeting Marquis to anchor the middle of rotation instead. It's fairly unlikely that the Nationals will sign any of these players on the list, but I can dream, can't I?
Last but not least, Where to trade the Big-Walkie:
Baltimore - How about Brad Bergeson and Ty Wigginton for Adam Dunn? If the Orioles would part with Michael Aubrey (instead of Wiggy), I say find a way to get the deal done. It's not likely that the Orioles would part with Bergeson, but what if we packaged Smartie in the deal with Dunn? The Orioles would have a solidl lineup with Roberts, Markakis, Mora and Dunn in the middle of the order and would receive a fairly promising Martis to help Guthrie out in an otherwise terrible rotation. So what do you say Baltimore Adam Dunn and Shairon Martis for Michael Aubrey and Brad Bergeson?
Oakland - Remember the splash Oakland made acquring Holliday last offseason? Why not make another by trading for Adam Dunn? The Athletics would certainly be able to land some prospects at the deadline for Dunn (like they did Holliday). I propose Adam Dunn and Shairon Martis for Brett Anderson, Craig Beslow and Daric Barton. The Nationals would get a solid young arm in Anderson, a pretty good relief man in Beslow and a project at 1B with Barton. Further more, the move would hardly deplete the Athletics rotation of young arms (Braden, Cahill, Gonzalez). While the trade is not likely, it's less of a rip-off than the Baltimore trade I've proposed.
Do I get the job as Nationals GM? Discuss what you think the Nationals should do this offseason.