• Washington Nationals Seeking Free Agent Starting Pitcher With No Playoff Aspirations.
In Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's September 11, 2009 article entitled, "Time to Make The Most of This Horror Show", Mr. Boswell reported that DC GM Mike Rizzo was, "looking at a list" of potential free agent targets on the pitching market this winter which included, amongst others:
"...Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf, John Lackey, Cliff Lee, Jon Garland, Kevin Millwood, Tim Hudson, Brad Penny, Joel Piñeiro, Braden Looper, Jarrod Washburn, Brandon Webb, Brett Myers (and) John Smoltz..."
"Some of them may have club options that are going to be picked up," Mr. Rizzo told the Post's Mr. Boswell, "But that's a long list. We're going to get one of them." A confident statement like that from the Nationals' full-time GM seemed to inspire some confidence in the ever-dwindling DC fanbase, but all I could think at the time was, "Why would any of those pitchers want to sign with the Nationals?
Why would anyone want to sign with a team that has produced just 4 double-digit-win starters (with John Lannan poised to become the fifth) in the 5-year history of the franchise? When a pitcher's worth on the market is determined in part by his statistical performance, why would any top pitchers want to sign on with Washington? Well, I thought that, and I thought about the headlines from last winter...like, "Pitching, slugger atop Nats' list" and "Lefty power, pitching on list for Nats", both written by MLB.com's Bill Ladson, and then I remembered titles, also by Mr. Ladson like, "Nats ink Cabrera to one-year deal", and "Perez to return on Minor League deal". Daniel Cabrera was released several months after signing with Washington when the Nationals found out he didn't know how to pitch and Odalis Perez backed out of his deal as soon as he signed it and never threw a pitch for DC in '09.
Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals' 1st 1st Round pick, and the Face of the Franchise, said it best himself, in the Washington Post's Mr. Boswell's article,"'If we win for one year, then we can attract the other [free agent] people we want.'" The Nationals are going to have to put together a competitive team before they are going to become an attractive free agent destination. Losing over 100 games for two-straight seasons is quite simply not too attractive. There's a lot of money coming off the payroll at the end of this season, so the Nationals may be able to offer one of those starters more money than anyone else like they did to lure Adam Dunn away from his competitive aspirations, but how many other players are going to make that decision? I've heard Major League players say directly that they wouldn't even consider signing with the Nationals at this point...what's it going to take to change the perception of the nation's capital's favorite team?
Which pitcher/pitchers from that list do you expect to sign with the Nationals?