Washington Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo was quoted in a post on the Curly-W live blog written by Nats' Director of Baseball Communications and New Media Amanda Comak explaining the decision to pick up soon-to-turn 31-year-old outfielder Denard Span's $9M option for the 2015 season:
"'We knew when we acquired Denard from the Minnesota Twins two years ago what type of player we were getting... And he’s done nothing but bear that out the last two seasons.
"'Denard was arguably our most consistent offensive player in 2014, keying so much of our offensive production, and his defense in center field is Gold Glove-caliber on a nightly basis. We’re excited to keep him in the fold for the 2015 season.'"
In his second season in the nation's capital, Span posted a .302/.355/.416 line with 39 doubles, eight triples, five home runs and 31 stolen bases in 147 games and 668 PAs over which he was worth +3.8 fWAR
The Nationals also announced that they made decisions on the other two players who had options for the 2015 campaign:
"Additionally, the Nationals declined to exercise their options on first baseman Adam LaRoche and right-hander Rafael Soriano. They will become free agents."
LaRoche, who turns 35 in November, put up a .259/.362/.455 line with 19 doubles and 26 HRs in 140 games and 586 PAs in his fourth season with the Nationals, finishing the year at +1.6 fWAR.
There was a $15M option (or a $2M buyout) included in the 2-year/$24M deal LaRoche signed with the Nats in January of 2013.
Soriano, who will turn 35 in December, was (4-1) with 32 saves in his second season in D.C., putting up a 3.19 ERA and a 3.08 FIP on the year, but he lost the closer's role after struggling in the second half, putting up a 6.48 ERA, 4.05 FIP and a .299/.359/.505 line against in 25 IP after the All-Star Break.
There was a $14M option for 2015 included in the 2-year/$28M deal Soriano signed with the Nationals in January of 2013.
The Nationals are expected to move Ryan Zimmerman across the infield to first base in 2015, but with Zimmerman's injury issues in the last few seasons, will they pursue a backup who can play first every day if Zim lands on the DL again?
If Anthony Rendon is going to stay at third base, the Nats will also be in the market for a second baseman this winter, with Asdrubal Cabrera officially becoming a free agent today. Cabrera has expressed interest in returning to D.C., but the Nationals have another decision to make there.
Will they add a bullpen arm now that Soriano's likely done in Washington?